5 principles highly accountable people live by everyday

“If it is to be, then it is up to me.” William H. Johnsen

Highly accountable people are rare to find nowadays. We want everything done fast, much like our fancy microwave meals. So we’re unable to cultivate the commitment necessary to follow through with the things that move the needles in our lives.

We’ll do anything to avoid walking the hot coals of personal responsibility, so we resort to shifting blame. We don’t know what we stand for, so we’re swayed left and right by any passing trend. Perhaps William H. Johnsen knew we’d find ourselves living this way. So he said, “If it is to be, then it is up to me.”

These simple but powerful words properly encapsulate the attitude of accountable people. I’m striving to excel, advance, and do splendid things with what has been entrusted to me. A wise man once said, “To get where you hope to arrive, follow the footsteps of those who’ve gone ahead of you.”

So I’ve been reading a lot from people who inspire me, and I can’t help but notice glaring accountability patterns in their lives. Mr. Accountability and Ms. Success are joined at the hip. One can’t exist without the other. This is why, if being successful appeals to you, you’ve got to be highly accountable.

Adopting these five principles can start you off.

1. They keep their power by facing harsh truths

Highly accountable people know that shifting blame makes one a victim and keeps them stuck, but facing the truth makes them powerful. It gives them autonomy because they recognize that their lives unfolding is almost always a result of past choices. Thinking this way is liberating.

If your past actions led you to this moment, isn’t it powerful to know that you hold the keys to the kind of future you want? Freedom comes when you take responsibility for your choices, no matter the external circumstances or who influenced you. When I stopped blaming my ex-husband for my miserable life and owned up to my immaturity and low self-esteem issues, I regained my power.

Most people stumble at the sight of problems. Excuses become their norm, and valuable time gets wasted hoping for things to get better. Whatever happened in your life may not be your fault, but you can control your interpretation and reaction to it. Change follows truth.

In her book, Susie Moore says, “What you’re not changing, you’re choosing.” It’s true. Facing the truth head-on is choosing control, power, and direction. Shifting blame is also choosing. It’s choosing to be acted upon rather than to act. It’s choosing to be a victim rather than the hero in your story.

2. They tap into the power of their problems

There are only two types of problems in life; painful and powerful problems. A painful problem leaves you desperate, out of control, with no ability to solve it. It takes away your power. But a powerful problem enlarges you. It forces you to push your boundaries, improve yourself and become better.

Highly accountable people turn their problems into tools of power. When faced with a problem, they don’t sit and think about it; they begin working on it even if they don’t know what they’re doing. The simple act of working on it eventually triggers the right ideas in their minds.

To be accountable, turn your problems into powerful outcomes. When asked how he’s managed to keep his business afloat for over three decades, one founder of a flourishing innerwear company said, “Every problem has a lesson to be unearthed. I use it to empower myself.”

Life is about not knowing what we’re doing and still doing what needs to be done without allowing problems to hold you back.

3. They embrace pain as a necessary component of growth

We’re taught to avoid pain or any negative feelings. We’re told to stay positive if we want to produce excellent outcomes. But is feeling good all the time realistic? Nope. It’s ineffective and prevents you from zooming in to the state of your life and asking the hard questions.

You see, adversity and failure are not only useful but are extremely necessary for an accountable and successful life. Accountable folks gauge their self-worth based on how they feel about their negative aspects. It’s something I’m learning to do.

So now and then, I step into my big girl shoes and tell myself, “I’m pretty judgemental of others, and I need to change this.” It stings to admit your flaws and mistakes, to sit with your pain, but it’s the only way to improve. Think about it.

Relationships heal through difficult, heart-wrenching, and gut pouring conversations. Sexy bodies are had after heart-pounding workouts and pools of sweat. Pain and adversity are essential for personal growth. In fact, I read a research report that revealed that 91% of people who were fired ended up with far better jobs, with an incredible 78% clinching the CEO role.

4. They set their own standards and use them as a guide

We’re apes. We compare ourselves and live lives that mirror others. No wonder we’re so frustrated, unsatisfied, and unhappy with our existence. However, accountable people add a different twist to the equation, making them unique and putting them on top.

Rather than engaging in the comparison game, they establish their set of values and use them to guide their lives. Rarely do you see an accountable person breaking a commitment, violating a promise, behaving rudely, or not acting according to expectations. Why? They’ve got the integrity to perform per their values.

Being committed to specific values gives them freedom from other trivialities. It helps them focus and perform excellently, putting them on the winning side. We look at them, scratch our heads, and wonder, what makes them so unique? So powerful? They’ve got this self-assuredness vibe that keeps them minding their business irrespective of who’s doing what where.

My high school teacher lived this way. Her mantra: stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. She was special, unique. She had something that was hard to put the finger on. In hindsight, it was her accountability to the standards she’d set for herself that set her aside from other teachers.

5. They leave the uncertainty door open

“I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. ― Richard P. Feynman

There’s an old adage that says: the man who believes he knows everything learns nothing. That says a lot about us because many of us live our lives with certainty. For example, you’re certain how much your boss should pay you or the type of woman you should get hitched to.

The problem is, you can never really be sure of what’s certain. Even worse, trying to figure everything out leads to more uncertainty and insecurity. This is where many people get stuck while accountable people keep cruising along. Why? They extricate themselves from the “I know” mentality while remaining open to discovering more through personal experience.

You’ll rarely hear an accountable person say, “This is just how I am.” They’re always stripping their certainties away and staring their ignorances in the face. They make progress because they leave the door to the unknown open.

Final thoughts

A body of men, holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody. — Thomas Paine

Accountability is the willingness to take responsibility for every choice you make. It’s following up with what you said you’ll do. It’s owning up to your mistakes instead of avoiding them. But it’s also facing the harsh truth and allowing your problems to enlarge you.

It’s setting your standards and living by them while being open to discovering new things.

Living by these principles daily can transform your character and enhance your relationships significantly because accountable people have a magnetic pool that draws others to them.

Mind Cafe’s Reset Your Mind: A Free 10-Day Email Course

We’re offering a free course to all of our new subscribers as a thank you for your continued support. When you sign up using this link, we’ll send you tips on how to boost mental clarity and focus every two days.

This article first appeared on Medium.