Passing The Buck

As the little voices grew agitated I called out to the girls to come down to my office.  I had intervened in the situation, just as war was about to break out.  When they arrived I asked them one at a time to “tell me what you did.”  Amazingly, each one had a story that was virtually identical in structure.  “She did this and made me do that.”  Not exactly personal responsibility at its finest, but that was a big part of why a squabble was erupting in the first place.  It never ceases to amaze me how much little kids can teach us about life.  Just as personal responsibility doesn’t come naturally for most kids, it doesn’t come naturally for most adults either.  Let’s take a look at two simple techniques for taking ownership of the results in your life and moving forward.

What's in your blind spot?

What’s in your blind spot?

Accountability Partner

Accountability is about remaining teachable and identifying where changes are needed.  Just as learning and growing are essential to moving forward, being held accountable is an integral part of this process.  When we hold ourselves accountable, it is known as taking ownership, or taking responsibility.  However, since we all have our blind spots, and since human nature is such that we tend to let ourselves off the hook rather easily, having a “buddy” that will hold us accountable is a tremendous asset, and a key for faster growth.

If having an accountability partner seems strange, think about the underlying concept for just a moment.  Parents hold their kids accountable.  Teachers hold their students accountable.  The boss holds the employees accountable.  But, who holds you, the business owner, accountable?

An accountability partner is someone that you can be open and honest with and who will help you by holding you accountable.  They hold up the mirror for you, to help you see where your blind spots are.  Having someone like this in your life will help you to greatly accelerate your growth.  The fact is, we all have our blind spots.  Not seeing them doesn’t make them go away – they just stay there.  Having someone point them out to you, although difficult at times to hear, is essential to creating the results that you want in your life.

Reframing thought patterns

Changing your thought patterns when it comes to personal responsibility is fundamentally about training your mind to look for solutions instead of accepting things as they are.  It’s not about pretending that setbacks don’t exist, they do exist and you will encounter them, it’s about looking for the solution.  This begins with changing old thought patterns that don’t serve us well to new ways of thinking that will.  For example, instead of saying “I have been struggling with…”, say instead “I am looking for solutions to …”  Because of the way the human mind works, simple changes in our choice of wording can have a profound impact on our thinking which then in turn impacts our actions which in turn impact our results.

While passing the buck may be humorous to observe at times in kids, it’s never funny in adults.  This is something that we never outgrow the need for help with.  We make progress, but there’ll always be more work that we can do in this area.  Personal responsibility is about accepting the fact that we are responsible for the outcomes and results in our life.  As long as we desire change and improvement, we must work on the only thing that we really have the ability to change – our self.  When we take personal responsibility and do this, amazing things begin to happen.

  • Shirley Jackson March 6, 2012, 11:27 pm

    Loved the article – I find that idea of voluntary accountability to be very valuable. Some business families see voluntary accountability by being willing to share their experience and to be an example for other families in business. Doing so not only offers a powerful sense of accountability to be the best possible in planning and processes, but also provides great ideas and motivating pride.

Leave a Comment