Accountability vs. Responsibility

Accountability vs. Responsibility
By IJGA Director of Mental Performance Skylar Jewell

This article is not based on the average person. No, the information below has been shown to be too difficult for average and even above average people. In fact doing this may even put you in the top 8% of achievers. Contained below is a simple behavioral practice based on the highest achievers that 100% of people are able to complete yet few will ever master. If you have read to this point, congratulations, you are on the right track… let’s see how far you can make it.

As a quick test, take a moment and use your phone or a piece of paper and write down all of the things you are responsible for. Make this list as exhaustive as possible. For example, “I am responsible for: Taking the dog out, making my bed, being a good person, filling my car with gas, my work ethic, how well I learn, paying my taxes, etc.,” This may take you a moment but the more you write down, the stronger this next piece of information will be. (*Think of this task as the beginning of a journey up a mountain to your greatest and most personally fulfilling goals at the top, and the more you list, the clearer your path will become.) I’ll even leave a space below for you to write a few responsibilities.

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Now that you have completed this, take a moment and read over all the responsibilities you have. Great! The next step is to lightly cross out all of the responsibilities that are shared or are likely to be taken by someone else. From my example before “I am responsible for: Taking the dog out, making my bed, being a good person, filling my car with gas, my work ethic, how well I learn, paying my taxes, etc.,”

With that reduced list, circle or bolden the responsibilities that have deadlines or consequences which ensure that you will complete them (…or else). Again from my previous example, “I am responsible for: Taking the dog out, making my bed, being a good person, filling the gas in my car, my work ethic, how well I learn, paying my taxes, etc.,”

Take a look at those you circled or made bold. Which are you most likely to achieve on a daily basis? (*Here come the steep cliffs during your climb to the top…) As it stands, most people will complete tasks when they need to and will delay them when they can. I was once told by my professor that it takes three to seven attempts for someone to start and finally keep their New Year’s goal. That’s three to seven years of waiting for something to happen. Some research suggests that only 8% of New Year’s goals will be completed. On the other hand research says that 95% of people will pay their taxes on time every year. Yes, for those wondering, those additional things you say you WILL do that bring on additional responsibility more likely end up falling way behind the things that end up creating situations with consequences. While any of the tasks on your sheet may be considered a responsibility, it is those which have consequences attached which then create accountability. Accountability is responsibility, but also includes individual ownership and commitment. For example others can take responsibility for taking out the dog and if the dog misses a walk there is blame to go around. Should I slack in my work ethic, the only person to answer for these actions, and the person who will bear the consequences, is no one other than myself. 

Applying this concept, what is it that we can learn? 

1) Accountability rocks at helping you achieve things… anything really! 

2) Because it is intimidating, isolating, and difficult many people fail to turn their most personally fulfilling tasks into areas of accountability.

3) In order to accomplish your goals, you must also learn how to create accountability for your progress.

As you look back over your responsibilities, are there any that are unbold or crossed out that you would likely need in order to achieve your highest goals? (Final push to the top of the mountain, the path is almost clear…) Take the time to rewrite and potentially add new responsibilities that will help reach the top of your goal mountain. Make sure that these are personal to you and that only you can take responsibility for them. Now, next to each responsibility, find a way to increase your personal accountability for the goal. If you create a consequence for not completing the responsibility then also consider adding a reward for completion (Think of “needs” and “wants”, “need” water and “want” soda. Only use “wants” as consequences). For instance:

ResponsibilityAccountability
Being a good personIf I fail at treating others fairly and with kindness I will write an authentic apology taking accountability for my actions.
Making my bedFor every month straight of making my bed, I get to treat myself to an ice cream of my choice.
Be a good learner in Technical Instruction, Strength and Conditioning, and Mental Performance.Write down and figure out how the previous lesson works for me in my practice plan. Forgetting to do this is (1) strike. (3) strikes and I earn logging off of Netflix until I have done it for 2 weeks straight = earn it back. 

Write your own in your phone or on a piece of paper. Getting to the top of your mountain depends on how well you write, adapt, and hold yourself accountable to the key responsibilities you choose. If you would like to know more please reach out to IJGA at info@ijga.com or the author of this article at Skylar.Jewell@ijga.com

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