Honesty is the best policy. I remember this statement from Sunday School and all the early years of being a Brownie and a Girl Scout. Living a truthful life should be the goal for all people. However, we live in a world where on a daily basis we experience crafty, cunning and untrustworthy advertising. Shady business practices are revealed on the nightly news and cheating the system happens as innocently as cutting in line at the amusement park.
Recently, I learned of an incident with a business that had been given misleading information and inaccuracies. The outcome: disappointment and money not well spent.
Have we lost the trait of being accountable? What would someone say about your accountability? Has it become so commonplace to embellish everything we say?
Accountability is an old-fashioned idea that says you are responsible for your actions. The willingness to be accountable for what you do, what you don't do or refuse to do is a significant trait of your character.
Unaccountable people have every excuse in the book. They tend to blame others, complain, put things off and do the least amount of work necessary. As a parent, I am witness to the teenagers lingo of "I didn't know," "I wasn't there," "It's not my job, "Nobody told me," or "It isn't really hurting anyone."
The reason why I choose to write about accountability wasn't just because of the excuses I hear from my teens or the disturbing dishonesty that a reputable business experienced, but to look at how cavalier we have become with stretching the truth.
As a fitness professional, I learned about being accountable a long time ago. Being an athlete, one learns from the moment he steps out onto the court that if he shoots an air ball, he can't turn to blame the player behind him. It was he that missed. Accountability in sports involves competitors being held accountable to the rules and regulations of their sport.
For a champion athlete, the accountability is even higher. Tiger Woods comes to mind as to how quickly credibility can be stripped away when held accountable for one's actions. If an athlete wants to maintain their reputations as champions, they have to work just as hard off the field as they work on the field. Michael Phelps is another example of this.
I will never forget the day early in my career as a personal trainer that I was met at the front door by one of my clients. Thank goodness it wasn't anyone famous or I may not have continued my pursuit as a celebrity personal trainer. "I can't train with you anymore, it has been weeks and I am gaining weight!" she said. I was being blamed for her futile attempt at weight loss, and yet when I left her home, I glanced into her car where a large bag of M&M's lay open on the passenger seat. Side note: She lived alone with no kids.
Quickly placing blame when it doesn't work out the way we want it to seems to be the way of the world at times. This doesn't have to be the reality. Instead, honesty really is the best policy. For my business and my family I have also added, "Just follow the rules." When you play a board game, it just doesn't work if someone doesn't follow the rules. Life, business and relationships work the same way. Below are a few exercises that you can work on.
- Tell the truth. Everybody messes up sometimes. Lying about it or trying to cover it up always makes it worse. Remember former President Bill Clinton? Need I say more? Save yourself some time and tell the truth.
- Police yourself. Are you accountable for your actions even if nobody holds you accountable -- or nobody catches you? You bet you are. My Sunday Set-Up™ club is the perfect example. I request that all my clients report back to me with their workout results. How many reps, how long did you hold the plank and how fast did you walked a mile? This is the perfect place to embellish your results. Why? You are only cheating yourself. You know how many you did, so why cheat?
- Look to yourself FIRST. If there is trouble, look in the mirror. Ask yourself, "What is the problem?" and "What am I doing -- or not doing -- and how can I help to solve it?"
Personal accountability is sorely lacking and urgently needed. Accountability is not just a mindset but a skill set that everyone can learn and should master. Choose accountability and own it. You will always come out on top.
"Never promise more than you can perform." -- Publilius Syrus
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