What is the Most Important Thing in Life? Accountability



What is the most important thing in life?  Well my friends there are many great answers to that questions, but let me key you in on something…  it’s accountability.  When it comes to living life you can either be the victim or you can be in control and responsible for your actions.

Accountability Definition

First let’s take a look at just defining the word.  According to Dictionary.com:

Accountability:  The state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.

Accountable:  Subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable.

Now let us take a look at how it pertains to you and your lifestyle.  You see when someone owns up to their actions that is being accountable.  When you always have a reason or excuse though, then you are being a victim.

Being the Victim & Victim Statements

Sales training would send me on a many year journey of self-discovery.

When I was younger and through the first portion of my adult life this was a problem that I unknowingly suffered from.  I always felt the need to try and explain why things did not work or what went wrong in whatever processes I was working with.

It wasn’t until I went through a sales training where the instructor was talking about eliminating victim statements and being accountable for our work, that I started on a journey to fix things.  While it was a profound day of learning for me, it would still take some time for me to realize how often I actually did play the victim.

It would come to fruition for me a few years later when I was working on not getting angry at the video games I was playing.  I often yelled or griped about the game and I had realized that I was not setting a good example for my kids, so I decided to make a change.  As I worked on that process of calming down it became apparent to me how often I was actually making up excuses.

It was at that point the little lightbulb popped up in my head…

It was at that point that the little lightbulb popped up over my head and I was able to tie in the training from the past with the current situation that I was in.  When I started being more accountable for my actions and stopped the excuses I found that it helped me tremendously in moving forward.

I remember that I would often argue that my victim statements were just stating a factual truth, which they were to some extent, but I learned that I could trace it back to myself for getting into the situation in the first place.  Once that realization happened, I was able to begin a process of growth to avoid future reoccurrences.

For Example:

I used to love to play the Madden NFL Football games as I was very passionate about the sport.  However, when playing the game I would often cite excuse after excuse for the bad things that happened to me in the game.

I often struggled with keeping my composure when playing video games.

Excuses varied from griping about the programming of the game to pointing out that I just didn’t see the coverage right.  Sometimes my statements were made in anger and sometimes not, but they were all victim statements.

As I began to make changes to my behavior for my kid’s sake I began to not only calm down, but I also started being more accountable for my actions in the game.  In doing this I found it much easier to learn from my mistakes and get better at playing.

Now you can see that by eliminating the negative anger and victim statements I was able to start progressing forward with accountability and positive growth in their place.

Actions + Accountability = Growth

Article:  The Importance of Learning From Mistakes

I have talked about The Importance of Learning From Mistakes before, but want to take this time to expand on that now via Accountability.  By owning all of your actions and especially mistakes, you put yourself in a position that you can then learn from them in a positive fashion.

Mistakes themselves will do their best to hide in the shadows and make you repeat them over and over in hopes that you never learn from them.  When you become accountable for your mistakes, it gives you the power to learn from it much easier as it effectively brings it into the light for you.

Once you have learned your lesson, you are then much less likely to ever repeat the mistake as you are more aware of it.  On top of that you are now fully aware of the actions and consequences of that situation, so it gives you the opportunity to make informed decisions before taking actions.

As you continue to take ownership of your actions, you will see more and more growth in your life.  As you continue to grow with accountability at your side you will find traversing life just becomes a bit easier.

Thoughts Versus Actions

Within an ocean of thoughts, it is your actions that define you.

There is almost always a whirlwind of things going through our minds on a daily basis at any given time.  However, we can only be defined based off of what actions we so choose to take.

What I mean by this is that we cannot always control what pops up in our minds.  However, we have absolute control over how we decide to act upon them.  Once we do act upon them, that is like planting seeds in that we will reap what we sow.  This is also where we build and define what role Karma plays in our lives.

This is why the Golden Rule plays such a prominent role in my life.  Before I act on things, I work to make sure that I am acting within the guidelines of the rule.  This allows me to make sure that Karma plays a positive role in my life and allows me to be a positive role model for the world around me.

It is also important to remember to see the bigger picture before reacting to just bits of information.  This why I have a dedicated page in my menu above for Perspective.  Being patient in your decision making process and seeing the whole situation will allow you to act much more appropriately.

Accountability = Importance

Accountability allows us to create a positive life off of a solid foundation.

As you can see now, this is why being accountable for yourself plays such a vital role for you in your life.  It creates a positive framework for you to create your life around and that is why it is in my opinion the most important thing in your life.

Without it, life itself becomes much harder to accomplish anything as you drift aimlessly throughout the sea of life.  However, once you start owning your actions it will allow you to accomplish great things and to learn so much.  It is certainly a solid foundation for you to build off of.

Share Your Story

Before you go, I would like to ask you to share your story or your thoughts with us in an effort to help us all grow.  Has being accountable helped you in your life or do you have a good perspective that you could share about it?  Please let us know!

If you liked this article, here are some others that I think you would enjoy as well:

James W D


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16 Replies to “What is the Most Important Thing in Life? Accountability”

  1. By playing the victim, blaming others, avoiding accountability, we basically remove the chance to grow and mature and also given away the power to make things right. It is also telling life that we are avoiding the lesson it gave hoping that we could skip to the next one. It does not work that way. Life will keep repeating the same course until we’ve learnt the lesson. Either by force or by will.

    • Kenny, your statement is very well aligned with the points that I worked to get across in this post. There is a saying that when we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it. What that means to me is that when you don’t take accountability for your mistakes or even just forget the lessons that you have learned in the past, then life will put you in the situation to learn from it again. After all, that is why we are here on Earth to learn and grow. When we deny ourselves that, life can be hard as the lessons will keep repeating themselves until we learn our lessons.

  2. James, I love your post. I remember having a similar revelation in my own life years ago. I always felt frustrated and angry. I blamed everyone else and everything else in my life for my unhappiness. When I was away at school I would call my dad and tell him how life just wasn’t fair. He said that I was right, life was not fair. He said no one promised a fair life so why was I upset about it? It really made me stop and think. He was right. I was upset about things not going my way and when I stopped to think about all the statements I was making and the unnecessary complaining I was doing, I realized I was playing this victim role. I was hurting myself and no one else. It was then, after that hard to hear conversation with my dad that I decided to change my way of thinking. He’d always told me growing up that there was no need to be upset over the things that I cannot change. Instead, I needed to make a plan about how to deal with those things. He’s always been great at tough love for me and I really appreciate it, especially as I move through my twenties.

    It’s a lesson a lot of people never learn and the sad thing is that they only hurt themselves. If we walk through life being upset, it affects everything else. My bad attitude can affect my partner’s and then he can go to work the next day and negatively influence someone else. It’s a bad cycle that we start and never stop. Instead, I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to turn around someone’s bad day with kind words or maybe a simple compliment. Maybe then they will take that positive memory and use it help someone else out.

    I know we’ll never be perfect humans but my life is definitely much better since changing my thinking for the better. When I’m in a tough spot, I can feel myself wanting to resort to the victim role and at times it can be hard not to go there but I do my best to turn things around. I do it for me and those around me.

    Thanks for writing this post. I needed to be reminded of this victim role we play too often. Thank you for helping me.

    • Allison, first off thank you very much for sharing your story in such detail. Something that struck me with your words is about how our attitudes can affect other people around us. That very same sales training that I mentioned in this post they talked about just how many people we influence every day. That number was surprisingly high when I heard it back then and I think today with social media added in now it would be even higher! The number itself over 10+ years ago was that what we do each day affects over 10,000 people…

      Think about that for a minute and let that set in. We are constantly influencing those around us with our current state of mind and that can be a negative or positive way. That person then goes on from your interaction with them and now influences other people based off their updated state of mind. This goes on and on in an endless cycle. This is why I know that 1 person can make a difference in this world as it is not that hard to be a positive example for so many people. It is a lot like those commercials that you see on TV where someone does a good deed while someone else sees it and then goes on to do a good deed themselves.

      You are very welcome, but alas I feel as if the real thanks should be going to you for making a conscious effort to be a better person and example for us all.

  3. Nailed it! My favorite James quote is now, “actions + accountability = growth”
    People not taking accountability is probably one of my top 5 pet peeves. I am one that will be the first to say if I am wrong or if I made a mistake. Honestly. It absolutely drives me insane when I am handed excuse after excuse from friends, family, employees, etc. when they’ve screwed up. It’s so much easier to get past screw ups, when the ownership is claimed. 😉
    Great post, Sir James!

    • Thanks Barb and yes I am quite fond of that quote as well. While I don’t consider this a pet peeve, I do think the world would be a much better place if we all started to be more accountable for ourselves. As you said it is much easier to get past the screw ups when ownership is claimed, this is because when you own your mistakes it makes it way easier to learn from them. As you learn from your mistakes you are less likely to repeat them as well.

  4. James, I absolutely love this topic and many things you pointed out here! I learned a very similar concept about being accountable vs. the victim a few years ago. The instructor taught me the concept of being the cause vs. effect of life. I didn’t realize how much I lived as an effect of life until then. For example, when I argue with my husband, I used to victimize myself all the time. He did that to me. He said this that affected me. Always his fault. Blah blah blah. I learned that by victimizing myself, I chose to be the effect of the situation, of what he said and mostly of my unwanted ego. Once I started to practice becoming the cause of my life, I strongly felt that I own that piece of moment and wanted more pieces of my life to be that way. I completely agree with you that this is the most important part of our lives. Without being accountable of own life, we are pretty much living like a dead fish aimlessly floated by waves. I want to live like a salmon who swim against the water current. Thanks for making me stop and think!!

    • Young, yes this is very similar to the Cause and Effect approach. When you are totally accountable for all of your actions, you are then in control of the cause and not just living through the effects. Like you said, almost like a dead fish just floating where the water pushes it to versus being that salmon swimming against the current.

      I even caught myself today on my drive to work, thinking up victim statements when I went through a light that had just turned yellow in fear of being pulled over. However I quickly caught the thoughts and laughed at myself for even thinking about going down the victim road. I knew just from where I was waiting in line at the light that it would be close for me to get through, so it was already totally in my control.

      Glad I was able to make you stop and think. That actually means a lot to me and I really appreciate that I have been able to pass along my knowledge in a way that helps others to fully discover themselves.

  5. James,
    Being accountable for your own actions is a big part of growing up. You will mature a lot faster when you stop placing the blame for your difficulties on some thing or some one else. I have a 10 year old that nothing is ever his fault when it goes wrong, this is the hardest thing to teach. Sometimes you have to get hit over the head before it will sink in. My management training (44 years of various courses) has given me a great deal of comfort in this area, ownership or responsibility is a big part of my past. I just hope I can pass it on to my son soon.

    • John, I certainly understand how hard it is to pass this along to your children. I have 3 of them ranging from 9 to 20 and with each one it is a different path to work with them. However you are very right in that being accountable will help you to be more mature. You are also right in that sometimes people do just need to learn the hard way or “being hit over the head” with it before they do. Here is to both of us learning how to pass this trait along to own kids.

  6. Very nice article. I base my life on these same principles. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder every once and while.

    • Thanks Tyler, much appreciated. You are right, sometimes it is nice when life gives you that little reminder of how you want to live your life by.

  7. James what an awesome topic and I could share a book with you on accountability, especially how I lacked it in my life until 7 years ago.

    I am a drug addict and an alcoholic. I got clean 7 years ago and work a program of recovery on a daily basis. A huge part of this is to now take responsibility for myself in every way.

    It is a huge change from being in active addiction where I just did whatever I wanted and caused chaos everywhere, laying blame everywhere and anywhere except with myself.

    Fortunately through my program I am able to live an extraordinary life now. I am happy and I am accountable.

    • Lynn, first off thank you for sharing your story here and congratulations on conquering your addiction.

      This is exactly why Accountability is the most important thing in life. Being accountable for yourself and all of your actions gives you that foundation that you need to build a positive and extraordinary life!

  8. Good stuff here with relevance to all of us. There’s a lot to process as accountability has importance in all aspects of life. Interesting that sales training turned out to be a life training tool for you. Makes sense when you consider the rejection that a salesperson encounters. Thanks for the insight.

    • That one day of sales training has been a huge boon to me throughout life. It is kind of funny how many very important lessons were imparted on me that day. Often when I am working on the site here and reflecting on the scenario I am writing about, I find myself tracing the roots of that thought back to that specific day. Wish I could remember who that was that did that training as it would be great to catch up with them today.

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