I hear a lot these days about the need to hold politicians, children or people in power accountable for their actions. Regrettably, we cannot hold another person accountable. We can, however, challenge them about their commitment to whatever it is they’ve declared they would do.
Accountability is an inside job. We hold ourselves accountable. It’s like we have an internal account wherein we make deposits through our actions. Those actions become part of the fabric of who we become, and we accept responsibility for keeping our word about something to ourselves. We build up credibility internally because it matters to us.
While we all know we cannot make another person do anything, we do try to browbeat them into being accountable. For instance, we can’t make someone recycle. We will decide to do so because it speaks to, and is aligned with, an inner value we have. From there, we take action with ease.
If we were to recycle from a place of ‘should’ or to simply gain approval or to ‘look good’ in the eyes of others, we would eventually get sloppy with the activity. We’d let ourselves off the hook, so to speak, when others weren’t looking.
I believe half of what people say AND all of what they do. We can hold people to their word and challenge them about the impact of not keeping it. When we do this, we challenge them around their sense of internal accountability. When we’re honest with others about the impact they have on us and the world around us, we hold the promise of making the world a better place instead of falling asleep at the wheel and yielding to another’s impact.
It is delightful to be in the presence of someone who does what they say they will do. We relax.
When we develop our internal accountability (if we choose to) around being our word, it translates to the outer world. People around us learn that we can be counted upon to do what we say we’ll do. Now THAT will make the world a better place, one person at a time.
Accountability is different from responsibility. We CAN be held responsible. More on that in a future post.