It was my fault…and I am happy to say that.

I have failed a lot in my time.

I’ve taken exams that I haven’t passed, I’ve interviewed for jobs that I didn’t get, I’ve made questionable decisions. And each time I failed I have been at least partially to blame. I didn’t prepare properly, I didn’t have the right experience, I rushed in without thinking through the consequences.

The word ‘blame’ has lots of negative connotations, but here I use it to mean taking accountability.  I’m not judging myself or being self pitying – far from it. I am holding myself personally accountable, which is an incredibly empowering thing to do.

When I fail I make a point of asking for feedback. This allows me to grow stronger because I know my strengths and the areas in which I need to improve.

So what is personal accountability?

Personal accountability is about taking full responsibility for the choices you make, your actions and behaviours. In business it means meeting your objectives, overcoming hurdles and demonstrating resilience. It’s recognising and acting when you find yourself procrastinating, it’s knowing what motivates you and creating work and ways of working that enables you to stay focused and motivated.

Personal accountability is the key to success.

What does personal accountability mean to you? How accountable are you to… you? For example – are you on time to appointments? Do you finish what you start? Do you deliver what you say you will?

One tool I use in my coaching work with individuals who want to take more personal accountability is the Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989).


We all have a wide range of concerns in our lives – housing, health, friends and family, the environment, the price of a pint of beer, work, career aspirations… the list goes on. Within this list  of concerns, there are things that we can influence and things that we can worry about but are powerless to change. Recognising the difference is key, we can now make a choice about where to focus our attention and energy, where it’s appropriate to take accountability and where we have to take a step back.

We could choose to focus all our attention on the area outside our influence. We could get annoyed about other people’s behaviour, we could blame our boss, capitalism, the weather, bad luck, or society’s over reliance on plastic. This focus leads to more and more blaming and accusing, and ends with us feeling utterly powerless and self pitying. This negative way of thinking, accompanied by inaction to change things, results in the circle of influence shrinking.

Alternatively we can choose to focus on the things that we can influence, the things we are, or can be personally accountable for. It might mean focusing on the aspects of those really huge problems that we do have the power to change. By focusing attention and energy on our circle of influence, we become increasingly proactive. The energy we expend is enlarging; each little victory motivates us to find new ways of exerting influence. We don’t waste energy on things we can do nothing about, but direct it towards what we can change and take personal accountability for.

Personal accountability is not something you do, it’s an effective way of thinking and being which empowers you to succeed.

For more information on increasing your Personal Accountability in business, or to book one of my workshops on a one-to-one or team basis, just get in touch here

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