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I've been spreading the accountability “gospel” for a long time and have prided myself on trying to always practice what I was preaching. Unfortunately, as my business and economic security withered under the strains of recession (along with my credit worthiness), I suddenly felt that I had no right to even think of myself as an accountable individual.
It was for me a very real crisis of confidence. No one else had planted this seed in my brain--it was totally my own doing. I brooded over this for quite some time, until about a week ago when I had an epiphany, of sorts: Accountability is defined by the precept that we all make mistakes (no one is perfect) and the need to be accountable would, effectively, be rendered irrelevant if we were. I've often said that the most important three word sentence in the English language is "I was wrong". Accountability is defined by how we respond to our mistakes, not whether we make them.
My professional and personal journeys have been full of instances where I made wrong choices, took bad advice or said the absolute wrong thing at a critical time. I'm human -- go figure! By the way, so are you.
I'm not sure that there is anything like perfect accountability. The human animal is gifted with the ability to screw up even under the best of circumstances. Sadly, we have also acquired the capability to find an unwitting party to blame for our mistakes. We've become a society that craves all of the credit but rejects all of the blame.
Thanks to high profile examples of failed accountability--Lance Armstrong, Joe Paterno, Tiger Woods, and Lindsay Lohan (why do we even care about this sad waif?) come to mind--we seem to be seeing a resurgence in interest in what all this accountability stuff means. Here’s a question; is anybody really paying attention?