Some people hate the word responsibility. For them, it conjures feelings that may seem heavy, burdensome . . . maybe even painful. However, if you embrace the concept of accountability in your own life and what happens in it, it can be freeing to reclaim a sense of control that most people lack.
I would imagine this is going to be difficult for some people. If some of the ideas and concepts I discuss stir feelings of discomfort or anxiety. I hope you will stick with me as we proceed. I recommend you examine what words or ideas are causing those feelings and determine for yourself where they are coming from, perhaps these are things you need to hear but don’t yet want to accept.
When your husband or wife isn’t supportive, the kids won’t behave while you’re making calls, the dog chewed through your internet cables, or there just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to really grow your business with everything else you have to do it’s time to employ a new way of thinking. When things are going wrong in your life and your business, we often have a gut reaction to blame other people and circumstances, but what if you stopped the blame-game long enough to consider how you created or contributed to the problem. To do this is to employ a powerful process called the “Accountability Edict” and it’s the first and largest step in creating a life of self-accountability. It’s the process of looking at oneself and asking how I contributed or am directly responsible for the situation at hand. It’s an exercise in inner reflection that stops the excuses and external laying of blame. For truly, we only have control of ourselves.
Chances are, some of you just got it. The light just came on or perhaps what you have always thought and believed was validated. For others, your first reaction to that statement is to toss out some expletives before demanding, “I didn’t create any of this”. Well, I’m going to challenge you to take a closer look. But before those defensive claws do any damage, I’m going to ask you to retract them long enough to hear me through.
This concept isn’t about blame . . . period! It’s not about blaming yourself instead of someone else. It’s about taking and accepting responsibility for what happens in your life – both the good and the bad. This concept is to be used when it works and honestly and thoughtfully considered when it doesn’t. I believe the times it will not apply doesn’t happen frequently so don’t try to cling to exceptions! We’re already a species of excuses and that is what we are trying to combat here. At the very least, this should change your perception and reaction to what happens in your life.
What the “Accountability Edict,” is meant to do, is help you to distinguish between two different mindsets, two completely different positions in life – one being that of a victim whose life is governed and dictated by forces outside their control (injustice collectors); and the other being that of a survivor, a person accountable to themselves and able to see how they control or contribute to what is happening in their lives. At the very least, it should help people recognize they have the ability to control how they respond to the things that happen to them even if they can affect nothing else in a particular circumstance.
For example, we can’t control if a tornado drops down on our house and destroys everything we own. We can choose to be a victim of circumstances or be a survivor that rebuilds what was lost. Using this situation, here are some examples of how the victim mentality and the response-ability personality responds. A victim of circumstance will drown in self-pity for months, years or even a lifetime about what was so unfairly lost and taken away from them. A person that approaches life from the position of personal responsibility and accountability will mourn the loss and quickly move on. They will recognize perhaps that they chose to live in a tornado prevalent climate but they made sure they had the necessary insurance to more quickly recover financially from such a disaster. They may choose this as the opportunity to build the house they always wanted, build a better, stronger home, or decide this is a good time to move to a different location. They may recognize that they failed to prepare for such an occurrence and won’t make that mistake again. They may also choose this as an opportunity to reconnect with their neighbors by helping them rebuild. The difference in how one responds is where the power of the “Accountability Edict” lies. The victim feels powerless. The survivor takes responsibility. The victim lives in their self-imposed prison beaten down by the world and the responsible thinker fashions their own key and walks away looking for the next open door of opportunity.
Let’s take a look at the victim personality a little closer. We all know one, don’t we? Some are such victims of their lives they can literally suck the life out of a room simply by walking into it. Every time they open their mouth they regurgitate their negativity all over you in an effort to elicit a sympathetic response and keep your attention with their sorrowful tale. They unconsciously attempt to prove to the world and themselves that their position as a victim is secure. Every injustice is held onto tightly. Taken out daily, reviewed, and put back into the collection newly polished. This is emotionally and energy draining for everyone around them. Certainly no good comes from indulging in this behavior and it only serves to keep the victim stuck in their state of hopelessness.
Now perhaps you don’t fall into the ‘energy sucker’ category but we’ve all celebrated our own pity parties from time to time. That is a natural a part of dealing with loss or change but you have to recognize these thoughts immediately and refuse to entertain them longer than necessary. And here is the great thing about change – you can start today! It is YOUR decision to remain a victim or be response-able. Certainly changing your thoughts isn’t an easy thing to do, it takes work and perseverance but each time you find yourself complaining, remember the “Accountability Edict” and determine how you contributed to the outcome. Take responsibility for the situation and begin to make the necessary changes to improve it.
Standing still doesn’t move you from point A to point B. I love the saying, “If you do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you have always got,” and isn’t that victim thinking? Isn’t it insane? Are you always waiting for something or someone to change your circumstances for you? Positive change begins with you by taking action, making things happen, walking away or running toward something, but don’t let your feet grow to the ground because you fear moving will only make it worse.
Another victim response is the inability to forgive – forgive others or more often, forgive themselves for mistakes or decisions they have made. Victims fall into the trap of blaming themselves, often unknowingly, for allowing others to hurt them, to abuse them, to disrespect them. Instead of moving on when something bad happens they ALLOW the world to punish them over and over again. Additionally, they generally have little to no respect for themselves. Survivors respect themselves too much to allow others to DISRESPECT them for long!!! This is the difference between being a survivor and being a victim.
Certainly, the “Accountability Edict” has helped many people escape from abusive and dangerous situations. Rather than blaming the abuser and staying put, they looked inward to the decisions they made that lead them here and what actions they could take to get out of it. Whoever you are or whoever you become, it is a culmination of the decisions you make – yes, we’re back to that accountability thing! It’s hard to accept that fact but how we respond to what happens to us, is completely and totally under our control. Start with treating yourself like you want to be treated! Decide how you want others to treat you! They can decide whether they like it or not. They can move or stay by your side. This isn’t about them! It’s about you!
The world is a plethora of survivors and victims. Ask yourself what makes them so different? Why do some people come out of horrible situations stronger while others seem to sink into deeper despair and weakness? It’s a mindset! It’s attitude! It’s what is inside them (not the outside world) that makes the difference between survivors and victims. When you truly come to understand this concept you’ve taken that first step on the road to change!
“A Change in Perception, Changes the World”.– Steve Baker
See yourself and the world through new eyes. A motto I created and live by is “A Change in Perception, Changes the World”. We don’t have to literally change the world; it’s us that has to change! When we change ourselves, the world is forced to change – it has too! We can’t see it the same way anymore because we are looking through a different set of eyes! I hope you get that! It is too powerful to overlook! Life can be a beautiful thing when your eyes aren’t clouded by your past hurts and future fears. Take off the victim glasses and see the world anew. You’re going to love it and yourself for doing so.
I think one of the most important things we can do is to share our stories, to lift-up others because we were once knocked down. Lead by example and be the light of hope others are looking for. That may seem impossible when you’re living in the dark, but I promise you that opened eyes will find that glimmer, that small flicker called hope, that light that will lead them out of despair where all victims live.
So what does all of that have to do with your business? Using the “Accountability Edict” in your business is no different than using it in other areas of your life. It’s a powerful concept that separates the successful from those that only dream of success. It works in all areas of your life.
If your business isn’t growing or perhaps it’s moving in the wrong direction, try asking yourself how you created it – how are you responsible for what is happening and being accountable for it. Ask, “What did I do to create the state of my business?” “What did I do that is causing my business to fail?” “What am I doing, or not doing, that is keeping my business from growing?”
You have to look at your actions or inactions. Listen to your self-talk. Inaction is as much to blame as the wrong actions taken. When you find yourself blaming other people or situations you are being a victim. If you are saying things such as, “These people don’t care about my products or opportunity,” or “These leads never call me back when I leave them a message.” How about, “The economy is so bad no one wants to join my business”, or perhaps “My staff or agents aren’t doing anything and don’t want to work.” All these things may be true but is that really why your business isn’t growing? As you can probably guess by now, this is victim talk – excuses; these are powerless ways of thinking. This is the kind of self-talk that drains your power, robs your energy, kills your creativity and causes most people to fail at business. So, while their businesses are failing they manage to become professionals in the blame game and were in no way responsible for the “Going Out of Business” sign on the door.
Now let’s look at these examples from an accountability thinkers point of view or what I like to define as “Survivor Speak”, the kind of self-talk you want to develop. Let’s face it if you aren’t being responsible for how you think and act that only leaves two other alternatives. You are playing the victim, which we have covered thoroughly at this point, or you’re suffering another of my coined terms of inactivity called “Tumbleweed Syndrome” – letting life, people and situations determine the direction your life moves, the direction your business takes without blaming or feeling victimized. This is still a powerless position of inactivity that serves no useful purpose.
People that practice responsible-directed thinking examine how their actions or inactions affect every outcome in their lives and business. They are looking INSIDE for the answers here. They aren’t pointing fingers away from themselves. So looking at the first example, “People don’t care about my products or opportunity.” To a certain degree, this is true, as we all don’t care about the same things. What’s important to you isn’t necessarily important to someone else. That’s a fact as certain as the law of gravity but that’s not where this ends. If you think that is the prevailing reason your business isn’t growing you start by asking yourself, “How am I responsible for that?” Before you say you aren’t responsible for that, consider the things you can do to overcome it.
Ask yourself if you are truly listening to the people you are talking to and finding out what is important to them and showing them how your products, services or business opportunity can be important to them. You selected the products and the services you provide – don’t blame the customer if you aren’t filling their needs or wants. Listen to what they say they need and find a way to give it to them – simple Business 101. Make wise decisions and then make wiser revisions till you get it right. If you build it they will come is for the delusional. If you build it and it is something they need and want and you’ve wrapped into a stimulating package that connects with them – then maybe! Just maybe.
Let’s face it, folks, it’s not about us in the world of business even if your business is your whole world! You might own the business, but your prospects don’t care about your business. They care about themselves and their business. When you lose sight of that, you’re missing the big picture, the key element to succeeding. No one joins and stays with your business because of how important or how excited and motivated you are about what you do. It might help initially generate some interest but; and you need to listen carefully and write this down – to get others to join you, follow you, you have to find the value in it for them. I hope you truly get that.
I’m going to remind you of a couple of Laws to Success in any business with these two simple concepts:
- You discover a want or need and fill it.
- You discover a problem and offer a solution.
If you aren’t doing one or both of these things, you’re not likely to have a business for long. Herein lays your responsibility – to find out how or if what you are offering can meet one of these two requirements – determine how it is important to your customer and adequately communicate it to them. I hope you see the power in this. While nothing guarantees a “Yes, I’ll be your customer,” response, you have increased your likelihood of making a connection with your audience, your customers. Again, your business isn’t failing because of them; you see where and how it now lies with you – it’s the “Accountability Edict” at work.
Perhaps you need to find a new approach in communicating with your customers and clients. Chances are good your brand is misaligned and needs a change. Is your victim mentality and excuses soiling your personal brand? How are your mindset and actions affecting your brand recognition? Perhaps you need to get more training, work more with a mentor, develop better interviewing and listening skills. In the end, it is up to you to change what isn’t working. Again, it (you) isn’t important to them until you have successfully discovered why and how they can use your services or products to solve their specific problems or needs.
Our second example, “My leads never call me back.” Again, no one who has ever worked in the marketing industry will argue that people don’t always return your calls. It may seem crazy that these people asked you for more information and you’re trying to get that to them but they won’t return your call, or they make appointments and don’t keep them, or they sign up and then cancel for no reason (at least no reason known to you!). There are reasons behind everyone’s actions or inactions be it fear, lack of trust, or simply because they are living the victim lives themselves and don’t know what the hell they want. However, they don’t take the responsibility off of you.
A responsible thinker recognizes these issues as inherent in business but they take all the necessary actions possible to overcome them. They don’t place the blame for their business’ failure on it. Perhaps the person behind the lead really wasn’t interested after all, they thought they were when they asked you to call but realized this was something they really didn’t want or need after all. How many of us have done this? It wasn’t anything personal. We just changed our minds or simply don’t know what we want. Again, this is the nature of people but this doesn’t let you off the hook completely as you do have some control in these situations.
Ask yourself, “What did I say or should have said on that voice message to increase the chances of a callback?” “What were my tone and intention when I called?” “Based on the information I have at hand, be it from a form they filled out online or another method from which you were approached, did I remind them of their “why”?” Did I also try email? Text message? Looking them up in social media? It isn’t enough to simply identify yourself and tell them you’re calling because they asked you to. If you know why they called, for example, let’s say they called for a “work at home” opportunity because they have a new baby and don’t want to leave home to return to their job – remind them of this.
Here’s a sample message, “Hi Christy. This is Steve with Work at Home Partners. I wanted to thank you for your request for additional information and take this opportunity to wish you congratulations on your new baby. You must be extremely excited. I know how important it is to new mom’s to stay at home and our team is filled with many successful moms and dads who we have done just that. Please call me back (clearly stating your phone number twice), so I can show you how you can earn the income you need to stay at home with your new little one. I look forward to talking with you soon.” Do you see the power in this? Do you see how there are numerous things you can learn to do to increase your rate of success? You remind them of why they asked for more information, why this is/was important them.
It is your responsibility to do all you can to ensure your success. Now if you don’t have that kind of information when you make your call, consider where your lead came from. Was it a job finder site or a mom’s work from home landing page? The person requesting the information has a different “why”, different reasons for requesting the information that is important to them and you should mention this in your call.
In our third example, we used the excuse “The economy is so bad no one wants to join my business.” I love this example because this is so easy and a great excuse that leaves victim thinkers warm and fuzzy – again, blaming the situations for something large and seemingly outside their control. How can you argue that excuse right? I can’t control the state of the world, the poor economy, the stock market. I’m a victim like everyone else, poor me! I know you have heard it, probably said it in a moment of frustration right? Well, we all slip from time to time but if you’re using this as your victim crutch, I’m here to kick the crutches right out from under you.
So what would the person that lives by the “Accountability Edict” do? Honestly, the possibilities are endless. They begin by examining the factors that are within their control to change. They look at obtaining new skills and education, they look at offering different services and changing up their brand if needed. They determine how the skills they currently have can be tweaked for the new world they find themselves in. They don’t explore blame but do look for ways to work smarter. When circumstances outside your control change, you change with the conditions or change the conditions if possible. When the settings change you can’t keep doing what you have always done and victims HATE this!!! What is the new why? What’s the new reason, the new problem that these new circumstances created that people want to fix and then find the way you can be part of the solution.
As many of us right now can attest, there has been a tantamount shift in our focus with a great emphasis on helping people build a business, helping them replace lost income or supplementing their income because their old rate of pay doesn’t go as far. More people need income alternatives now more than ever, that’s a nitch we can fill, and nothing grows your business faster than helping other people build their business. When you hear business leaders talk about the enormous opportunity we have as marketers and brand builders know these aren’t just words to motivate or hype to get you moving faster, this is the stuff fortunes are made of – having the right opportunity at the right time and getting the word out. That is where you sit today. It’s truly a win-win situation for those that seize the opportunity. Your responsibility is to change with the changing times to stay ahead. Victims resist change and fall behind.
Finally, and this really encompasses any problem or situation both in your lives and in your business, you have to realize that your success is in developing and growing yourself. Fostering your sense of personal accountability is about throwing out all the excuses that hold you back, it’s about leading instead of following, it’s about stepping outside your comfort zone. Now when you’re new to a business, and many of you are, you may feel that you’re following most of the time. I personally prefer the instructor and learner contrast myself. You watch, you study, you grow, you keep learning until you have the skills to begin leading. No matter where you are in life or business you aren’t always one or the other, you’re always both – leader and follower, learner and instructor.
By education or life experience, there are areas in your life where you are teaching some and leading others. I’m always shocked when I ask potential business or networking partners, especially those that are parents, how they rate themselves as leaders and they give themselves low scores. They don’t even recognize themselves as the leaders they are despite the fact they are raising and teaching their children. Where else is a leadership or instructor role more important? I just use this as an example to show you, if you’re new to business, you’re not likely new to being a leader to someone else. You have it within you to reach the goals and achieve the dreams you’re after. And if you’re in business, even a paid employee, you better recognize quickly that you’re in the business of developing and fostering your personal brand. Take control of your professional and personal reputation and you’ll be miles ahead of the others in no time.
My challenge to you in life and business is to learn to think, act and behave with purpose and accountability and success will come to you in any endeavor because you are now in the driver’s seat. You are the one making things happen. Develop yourself as a leader, an expert, and the people and the opportunities will begin to seek you out.
So here are some parting questions to those who want to grow their business or those wanting to jump-start their faltering career. These are just a few “Accountability Edict” style questions the non-blamer, the responsible thinker should consider:
- Am I truly doing all I can do to grow my business/career?
- Am I doing what other successful leaders have done?
- Have I really learned, applied, and consistently practiced all that I was taught to do?
- Do I continue to review my company’s training and seek outside sources to gain new skills and techniques?
- Did I set my goals and stick to them? Do I review them often enough?
- Do I blame outside forces for my lack of success?
- Do I accept responsibility for my failures? My successes?
- Do I give back to others freely knowing my life and my business is dependent on giving without want, for that is how I get back in return?
- And while this may seem a bit off topic, I personally believe this is important in becoming and being a person of true character and success and building a brand as such – Do I consistently and unbegrudgingly practice acts of kindness? There is a universal power in this behavior beyond the scope of this discussion but it is so important to seek out opportunities to “Pay it Forward”, give back, perform random acts of kindness to those we know and those we don’t.
In creating a mindset for accountable living, live life as you want it to be, not necessarily as it is (now). Give without want and your rewards, your very success and happiness will be virtually guaranteed. These are things no one can do for you. These are your own actions to take today. That is the very essence of living a responsible life. I have my own business tagline, not quite a mission statement however, that keeps me on track and sets the tone for those around me – The Promise of Success is Yours to Keep. I can only be responsible for my own success as you can only be responsible for yours. I can share my time and knowledge, but that promise is yours to make and keep and the guarantee lies solely in you. If you can’t keep your promises to yourself, you can’t very well expect the world to do the same.
Finally, there is no success, no happiness or peace of mind for those trapped in victim thinking – those things are the rewards the survivor claims for him or herself by being accountable. I’ve come to notice in my life, and during those times I’ve been captive of the victim mentality – they are often unaware of the embrace of negativity and weakness that blankets them. My wish for you is that you are blessed with all the treasures this life has to offer – that you have or develop the understanding and appreciation for the power that lives within you. Practice forgiveness, respect for yourself and others, make and keep all promises to yourself, and know that there is a world of abundance enough for everyone if you have the courage and perseverance to take personal responsibility for your business and your life.