While most adults understand that they are responsible for their choices and actions, too many refuse to accept that they are accountable, as well. In this sense, accountability and responsibility are not synonymous, as most think of them.
What do I mean by this?
When you accept responsibility for your choices and actions, you are willing to accept the consequences of those choices and actions. Accountability on the other hand, implies that you are also answerable – at least to yourself – for them.
While the difference may seem subtle, it is also significant, in that being accountable suggests an advanced level of maturity that too many people refuse to accept; you recognize an obligation to accept responsibility, or to account, for your actions.
While being responsible may be seen as a duty, being accountable is a conscious choice to accept that duty, regardless of the consequences.
Being Accountable vs. Being Responsible
This is not a mere question of semantics, but rather, a fully conscious understanding that responsibility can be shared while accountability cannot. Being accountable not only means being responsible for something but also, ultimately, being answerable for your actions. In other words, accountability is the choice to take ownership of your choices and actions, rather than simply accepting their consequences.
That is a huge difference, since it means you accept being responsible for both your actions and their outcomes as a value in itself; a way to measure self-worth, through your commitment doing the right thing without caring who else may, or may not, know about it.
Being accountable is a very personal choice and has a direct impact on your sense of self-esteem, while being responsible tends to have a greater affect how others think of you.
Being willing to answer for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviors, and actions, to take ownership of the situations that you’re involved in, is the very definition of accountability. Doing so has value far beyond simply being willing to accept responsibility. It means you’re fully in charge of your own life.
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