Pitfalls to Accountability

Laura Novakowski  -  Nov 17, 2013  -  , , ,  -  Comments Off on Pitfalls to Accountability

In many conversations of late, accountability seems to be the main topic.  What does accountability mean? Instead of using the typical dictionary definitions, I’d like to use some classic quotes.

“Never promise more than you can perform.” Nov14_2013_Postits_2013

Publilius Syrus

This one really hits home. When we over promise, we all too often under deliver. I know from personal and professional experience that rather not than keep my word to others, I will compromise, short change and even overlook my own business and family needs.

Here’s two tips for handling over promising:

  1. Stop being so quick to volunteer.  Sit on your hands. Count to 100. I do think it’s not really the best to start pulling out the tape and throwing it over my mouth, but believe me I have considered taping my mouth shut.
  2. Be realistic in setting deadlines.  There’s a great line that has helped me tremendously – “under promise and over deliver.”  Clients respect honesty and really appreciate receiving products and services earlier than anticipated.  This also gives us some breathing room. I don’t know about you, but all too often the unexpected crops up and then there’s a mad dash to complete an assignment.

 Nov14_2013_approach_avoid“It is not only what we do,but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”


I’d like to slightly rephrase this quote, “It’s not only what we do, but also what we avoid doing, for which we are accountable.”

My parents gave me many gifts, two that come to mind as I read this quote are: always do your best and what you start you finish.

The commitments we make matter. When taking on a responsibility, it’s always first and foremost my choice to agree. Once I take on that responsibility, it is up to me go all in and do my very best.  There is no room today for a halfhearted approach, I recently listened to a TED Talk by Brene Brown, PhD where she discussed vulnerability and courage, the true sign of courage is being vulnerable enough to confront life and issues with and open and trusting heart. Dr. Brown discussed how valuable it is to risk non acceptance, making mistakes, not knowing enough and showing others and ourselves that we  dare to share and be exposed while giving it our all.

To not finish, for me, demonstrates lack a true lack in my character.  When we decrease our participation or just plain quit, it violates all the trust that others have invested in us.  This trust takes a long time, if ever, to be regained.  No matter what the age, position or outcome, if we sign up, we need to show up and actively participate. Avoidance rarely makes a challenge or problem get better or go away. When we avoid one time because we are not the star or the winner, we generally will not get a chance to come out on top the next time.

I will leave you with one final quote by Bret Hoebel

If I could give one tip for people – it’s not an exercise or nutrition regimen.  It’s to walk your talk and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don’t get you in shape. It’s your accountability to your word. 

We would love to hear you thoughts on some of the pitfalls and solutions that you when dealing with your accountability.


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