“A man who is not accountable to anyone is a danger to himself.”
The relationship between accountability and self-respect, self-worth, and boundaries are inseparable. You can see this reflected in every relationship you have in life, especially the one you have with yourself. The first image that pops into my head about accountability is coming home from school with poor grades. I hated that ‘walk of shame’, knowing that I would get an earful about my poor performance and be held ‘accountable’ for not being ‘responsible’ with my studies.
We now live in a society where social media makes it very easy to never be held accountable for the way we speak and get away with it. The idea of cutting someone off because they tell you that you acted poorly seems ridiculous to me but that’s part of the world we live in. You see this tension play out when people lack accountability in their personal lives but are then asked to perform in a business setting. I'm not some dreamer who believes every job is good and you should always do what you're told BUT if you made your bed, you need to sleep in it. If you underperform or don't like the rules but you signed up for the job, you committed to do the work and being held accountable for your responsibilities is part of the process.
What is the price we pay for lack of accountability?
Oftentimes we hear people speak about accountability around poor performance and not letting people off the hook for acting poorly, which is real but we must not forget we are not always the defendant of wrongdoing. When you recognize your self-worth and boundaries, holding others accountable for how they interact with you is part of the equation. This is how I think about being accountable to yourself. I won’t lie, that’s not always fun or pleasant. I have never been one for confrontation and believe me, some people hate being held accountable for their bad behavior. Every time you don’t hold people accountable you start creating a division within your sense of self. Please don’t read this and think, Dan’s telling me to start picking fights with people all day BUT I am telling you that maybe some of the people in your life are not great fits and others need some help better understanding what your boundaries are.
One could say this is all nonsense, just lower your expectations of others, and promise less to those around you because you can’t stand the feeling of being held accountable. Go for it, the choice is yours BUT if you ever start asking yourself why your life isn’t turning out the way you envisioned, remind yourself, you chose the “more comfortable way”. Being accountable to yourself and others is foundational for great relationships and a great place to examine if you want better from your life.