It’s often too easy to place the blame on others without truly recognizing that we each play a role in the outcome of every situation. Taking responsibility for our words and actions frees us from being a hostage to our mistakes. It allows us the opportunity to accept the consequences, demonstrate our integrity, and move forward focused on what we hope to achieve rather than being distracted by the worry and fear of what might catch up to us. When we are accountable we are refusing to be burdened by conspiracies, and we’re empowered to speak from our hearts and to take action in a way that reflects the good we wish to accomplish.
Growing up one of six kids, it was easy to get away with mischief. My mom often blamed anything that went wrong in our house on the ghost who had clearly taken up a long standing residence. I’d like to think that of all my siblings, I was the good one, but even with that being said, I’ll admit that I might have conspired with the household ghost from time to time.
I now have two girls of my own and it’s important to me that they understand the power of being accountable. Over the years I’ve learned that my fear of being accountable doesn’t compare to the pride I feel when I take responsibility for my words and actions. I’ve also learned that the more I’m accountable the more positive outcomes I experience in the long run.
To give an example … A few years ago, I nearly ripped the rear passenger door off of my car because I was in a hurry, worried I was going to be late for an appointment, and feeling too impatient to simply wait for my daughter. In my haste, I misjudged how much space I had to back out of the garage knowing that my daughter had left her car door partially open while she ran back inside to get something she’d forgotten.
After my mistake had been made and the damage had been done, I suddenly became very aware that I had two options in how I could handle this. I could completely lose control and blame my daughter for all the stress and angst I felt that morning. I could go further and blame her for leaving her homework causing us to be later than we already were. I could go even further and blame her for leaving the car door open causing me to hit the garage wall as I backed out.
Or I could be accountable for my actions. I’m grateful that in that moment I recognized that both of my girls were rattled by what had happened and scared of what was going to happen next. I looked at both of them, took a deep breath, and apologized for rushing them. I admitted that I had not planned well for our departure time that morning and as a result we were all scrambling to get out the door. I apologized for not being more patient and for trying to speed things up, and in doing so, I did something stupid which resulted in the car getting damaged.
I then made two phone calls. The first one was to Ricky, my car service guy. Fortunately, he and I had a great rapport which gave me comfort as I explained what had happened. He assured me that we’d get everything fixed and he encouraged me to focus on the fact that no one was hurt and that the garage itself wasn’t damaged. I then called Chris, my husband, and told him how sorry I was and that it was completely my fault. I could hear the frustration in his voice, but his words were kind and supportive as he agreed to meet me at Ricky’s shop.
After getting my girls to school, I met Chris and Ricky. The two of them inspected the damage and poked fun at my mishap. Ricky then directed us down the road where he had a friend who specialized in auto body repairs and who just happened to owe Ricky a favor. My stomach had been in knots all morning as I anticipated the cost of the repairs. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when we finally got the estimate and learned that we were only going to be charged $100 to realign the door.
While the cost of the repair was much lower than what I had feared, that wasn’t the most powerful aspect of the positive outcomes I experienced from this situation. Taking accountability in that moment strengthened my relationship with each of my daughters. Can you imagine how they would have felt if I had blamed them for what had happened, and what the long-term impact would have been on our relationship?
This situation also acted as a powerful life lesson, not just for my girls, but also for me.
In the days that followed, I felt proud of myself for taking accountability and for teaching my daughters the importance of owning our mistakes, and with that pride came the recognition that while it was obvious that I should have been accountable in that moment, not every situation is so black and white. This incident occurred during a time in my life when everyday felt like a battle. Most of my relationships were strained, nothing was going right and I’d forgotten how to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. I believe this was the wake up call I needed to realize how my own words and actions were playing a role in my state of despair. I began to understand the importance of owning how I was going to show up, how I was going to respond to the world around me, and how I was going to engage with others.
If you can relate to feeling like it’s you against the world, I’d encourage you to take a moment to reflect and ask yourself what role are you playing in all of this and then have the courage to Be Accountable.
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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