Sing along with me if you remember the classic song “Already Gone” by the Eagles: “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”
Who knew back when we were REALLY singing that song the utter truth of those simple words? We’ve all heard of accountability, right? We know what an important trait it is to have. And yet, when we tune in to the actual definition—Accountability: a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results—do we really strive to project that trait each and every day? Or are we simply “living our lives in chains”?
I have the privilege of spending many of my days with people who are eager to learn, eager to better themselves, eager to take control of their lives. The eagerness they have ignites my passion to help them even more. It’s interesting, though, that many of those very same people get themselves stuck in the victim cycle. They blame others and point the finger when they don’t get the results they want; they put their hands up in frustration and wait to be told what, when, and how to get something done. They use the classic, “That’s not my job!” statement. And then- they complain because they don’t feel empowered and engaged in their careers and in life, in general.
RARA Steps to Accountability
The question is, how do we get out of the cycle that many of us find ourselves in? You know the cycle of “I want to OWN my life/ Wait a minute—that’s not my fault/ I will achieve GREAT things/ Man, she bugs me so much, and this screw up is all because of her” and on and on and on. Follow the RARA steps to jump off of the victim bus and onto your own vehicle for success:
- Recognize it. In order to change the behavior, you’ve got to see it first. The best lens to use for this clear vision is other people. Get frequent, authentic feedback from colleagues, superiors, friends and family. Really listen to what they have to say. Are they providing feedback that shows you’re accountable for your actions, or are they letting you know you sometimes play the victim card?
- Acknowledge it. Think of a situation where you felt taken advantage of or victimized. List all of the facts that describe why you felt this way. Then turn it around. What part did you play in creating the circumstance you found yourself in? Can you see the ‘other side’ of the story? Are some of your ‘facts’ actually excuses you’ve told yourself? Did you choose to ignore some parts of the story in order to see yourself as blame-free?
- Resolve it. Simply recognizing your tendency to fall into victim mode and acknowledging your part in it is a good start to kicking the victim habit, but it’s not going to get you to a better, victim-free place. For that, being proactive is key. You can’t allow yourself to look the other way and ignore what’s right in front of you. You are the only one who is responsible for your actions. Turn your attention to what you can do to improve a situation rather than on what can’t be done or what is outside your control.
- Achieve it. Winning the accountability game is all about taking risks and accepting full responsibility for our actions and the results of those actions. Think differently and be a problem solver in order to get different, better results. It takes courage, persistence, and an acute self-awareness to achieve the best life has to offer. And going back to that classic song, we each hold the key to do just that!
This article by Tracy Bianco first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.