The Pursuit of Accountability
Personal accountability is a mindset. It is the belief that you and solely you are responsible for your choices both good and bad. More importantly, it’s a lifestyle. I personally and professionally have made mistakes, did things I regret, and paid a high consequence. But a bad day or a bad year does not have to equal a bad life. A dark cloud doesn’t have to follow you everywhere you go and no, rain does not last forever. I have made poor choices in my past but neither I nor you have to subscribe to the belief that a temporary lapse in judgement permanently defines your character. In fact, in a most recent press released when asked, I stated,
“I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that a lifetime of striving to live with integrity would outweigh a bad decision and unfortunate lapse in judgement. While most people wish to not discuss their mistakes and failures, I will as I believe that those who persevere from adversity possess a spirit of humility and are therefore inclined to make the necessary changes needed to not only learn but, most importantly, grow.”
So when you fall short of being your absolute best, you hit a low point, or simply disappoint others who expected more from you follow the following accountability steps:
1. Admit that you were wrong
Let’s agree to always call a spade a spade. Whether you failed to make good on a promise to a friend, dropped the ball on a business deal, procrastinated on handling issues that really count, or whatever your wrong is, call it out! Humility and responsibility will cause any great leader to boldly admit when they fall short. Admitting a wrong may seem trivial but to those who were counting on you they deserve to hear you clearly acknowledge your wrongdoing. Without acknowledgement there is no correction and no growth. It takes a stronger person to recognize a mistake than to ignore it. I can personally attest to this.
2. Correct your wrong
An “I am sorry” falls on death’s ears without a corrected course of action. I have learned that this process requires a lot of patience because there is not any cookie cutter apology method and there should not be. A mass apology is not acceptable. You have to take the time to evaluate who you affected, and in some cases it may be multiple people. One of the most important things to do besides addressing the issue with the affected parties is to accept the consequences of your actions without making excuses or being defensive.
3. Learn from your mistakes
One thing I have learned quickly is that in order for my mistakes to not define my character I have to not repeat mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance, and I personally have hired numerous individuals who have been amazing hires and have done some great work, but a second chance was warranted. It boils down to one learning from his/her mistakes. My mistakes caused me to ask the following questions:
Have I removed myself from the situation or environment that caused me to make this mistake?
What small mistakes contributed to bigger mistakes?
How can I use the outcome of my mistakes as wisdom to empower others?
No one is immune from mistakes a we are all human. But we simply cannot apologize and carry on as before and business as usual. The best way to learn from our mistakes is to create and embrace the solution to those mistakes. This requires strategy like every other successful area of our lives. And, yes, the best way to get through a setback is a strategy for a come up. In my failures especially my recent ones, I have learned to:
Identify my weaknesses
I try to keep myself in the habit of fleeing from my weaknesses or areas of improvement like a burning building. I had to figure out what keeps Dallas from being the best he can be and cut all ties and links to it or on some cases “them.” What about you? Is your weakness procrastination, fear, unrealistic goals, laziness, jealousy? What is it? Or, what are they? Identify what makes you tick and get a hold on it! Quickly!
Get an accountability partner
Smart, independent people often don’t want help. I get it. But in a world where hundreds and sometimes thousands of people will be amused, gossip, and judge you in your failures it makes total sense to have a handful of people in your corner rooting for your success and pushing you to get there. An accountability partner(s) is someone you trust, genuinely wants you to succeed, and most importantly is not afraid to tell you when you are wrong and offers constructive criticism. This is your circle. And, as my friend, Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant Senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, recently put it,
“If you look at the people in your circle and don’t get inspired, then you don’t have a circle, you have a CAGE.”
As we began the year, my very close friends and I decided we were going to create vision boards to highlight 2019 goals and hold ourselves and each other accountable. I loved the idea and am excited that I have another layer of accountability. It is a great idea, and it is not too late for you to create one of your own, if you haven’t already.
Recognize that you can’t control someone else’s opinion of you
I can admit that like most people I care about my image. I believe that I can go a bit deeper and admit that have always cared a little much about my image – leading to my being too careful about my image. What do I mean? Society has taught us that we must live this “perfect” life, and while our expectations of our leaders should remain high, we place them and people on so high of a pedestal that in some cases it’s tough to admit when a mistake has been made. Nonetheless, admitting one has made a mistake, apologizing, and growing from it is essential. However, in doing that, I was reminded by a close friend just recently
“people can be forgiving but rarely forgetful.”
I get that point, but we cannot allow what others think about us hold us back from moving beyond a mistake and further into our purpose. This does require a need to drown out the naysayers who sometimes forget that they’re not perfect either and focus on the perseverance, grit, and tenacity that is required to prove them wrong in their assessment of your life based on an incident.
When you focus on what you can control and remember the lessons you have learned from past failures, your comeback is inevitable. We determine our comeback due to the right attitude, the right outlook, the right circle of influencers, and staying focused – never looking back. A setback doesn’t have to keep you from reaching success this year or any year. When you have messed up, don’t surrender just respond and continue moving onward and upward.