Updated: Sep 16, 2021
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.”
— Les Brown
I’ve been thinking about the best way to say what I’m about to say.
As positive and respectful as I try to sound, what you will read on the next paragraphs will not be an ode to encouragement. It will be, most likely, tough to swallow. You might need to take a break from reading it, and that’ll be OK. Just remember that I am talking from the perspective of someone who has been through some highs and plenty of lows and, if luck so wishes, might be able to shed some light to illuminate your path. This doesn’t intend to be a set of judgements, but suggestions, hoping they may help you get a different perspective, and a new take on your approach.
What is the meaning of accountability?
I am not necessarily talking about a definition you can find in the dictionary. I’d like to go beyond that. When I think about accountability, or my approach to responsibility, the first thing that comes to my mind is what I do when something goes wrong, or I make a mistake. Do I look inside or outside? Do I immediately try to find someone or something I can place the blame on?
For better or worse, I’ve always been someone who would criticize himself. And very harshly, which is not always good. It has taken me a long time to change that and allow myself some breaks, some breathing space, but I still believe I’d rather be harsh on me than looking for excuses somewhere else. Why? Because accountability strengthens us, and makes us trustworthy. Both onto your eyes and the eyes of others. When you assume responsibility for something that went wrong, those around you will respect you, even if they got hurt or negatively affected by your mistake. And when you say something was not your fault, they will believe you, because they know you are not someone who runs away from responsibility. Eventually, also, you will learn to accept that deserving a break could be a good, possible thing.
How much time do you waste looking for answers outside?
Not holding ourselves accountable for our shortcomings and errors comes with a steep price tag. There’s plenty of long-lasting consequences but, in my opinion, one of the worst is the precious amount of time we waste. Time never comes back, and what we lost, is gone forever. So, when we fail to look inwards for answers, we are forcing ourselves to keep going down the same road, the wrong road, that will lead us to no answers, because there aren’t any at its end.
When was the last time you sat with yourself, the only person you cannot fool? You know you should, and that probably scares you. And that is just fine, because facing what scare us is liberating. So go ahead, have a little chat with the man in the mirror, and start a new journey down the right path.
How much time do you dedicate to look for inspiration?
Lately, I’ve heard several times that motivation doesn’t help, that it is plain garbage. I’m not sure about that. I don’t believe motivation is as important as being driven and inspired, though. Motivation is a spark, and we need that spark just to have the fire going. But then, we need to keep throwing firewood into the pit, and keep doing so for as long as we need the fire to burn..
Inspiration makes great firewood because it is constantly giving you ideas, reasons, and suggestions to move forward, to achieve your goals, or just to not give up.
How often do you feed your fire?
How much time do you spend watching stupid videos on YouTube, infinitely scrolling down your Facebook wall, or binge-watching shows on your preferred streaming service that don’t leave you a single, worthy-of-your-time thing? Do you honestly believe that any of those things will take you anywhere closer to where your heart longs to be? You know they won’t, but you use them to soothe your own pains, to avoid thinking about what you should be doing.
Just for the fun of it, why don’t you give it a try an do something different? Try to read, watch, or listen to something, to someone, who can and will provide you with clues, advice, INSPIRATION to work towards what you really want to do.
Can’t expect results without putting in the work.
You got home from work, tired and upset after a long, dreadful Monday. You were planning to work out, but you don’t. Instead, after taking a shower, you sit in front of the TV, eat something full of calories and empty of nutrition, and then go to sleep, so you can have just enough energy to feel like a zombie and do it all over again the next day.
Or maybe you do work out. As a matter of fact, you exercise even harder and longer than you expected. You feel great, energetic, and free of guilt so, to reward yourself, you decide that you will allow yourself to have pizza for dinner, instead of something healthier.
That is called self-sabotage.
I can really sense how much you want to punch me in the face right now. Don’t you?
You have probably heard that famous quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that says: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Whether “insanity” is a good word choice to define that method or not, I’ll leave it up to you. Insane or not, it is certainly not a smart choice, to say the least. Even not doing something IS an action so, when we keep NOT doing what we should and, still, expect luck to strike our lives, we are neither sane, nor smart.
Another quote, one of my all-time favorites, is the one that says, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. I had never thought about luck that way and it felt like a revelation to me. In essence, while moving towards my dreams and working for them, I would be getting ready for that moment. It would come, and I just needed to be prepared.
Have you paused to think how prepared you are? What did you do today to get more proximate to your goal? Are you now closer than you were yesterday? Or are you just a little further away? All of these are questions only you can answer. Now, are you going to take that pause?
You need to stop complaining.
Yes. Life sucks. In some level or another, it does for you and for everybody. So, why does that make you feel special, or entitled for an excuse? You know who used to do that? ME. Did it ever help me? NO.
Whether you have reasons or not to believe you are a victim, you should NEVER accept that role. All my life I have realized over and over that, regardless how bad I could feel, and how many reasons I had to genuinely feel so, there was always someone else facing situations that, to me, looked tougher, worse, more challenging. And, in most of those cases, they were showing a better attitude, preaching a worthy-to-follow example that was surrounded by silence, because actions did all the talking.
I wanted that for me, and I had to work hard just to get in the same vicinity of their mindset but, slowly but surely, I kept getting closer.
I am still walking down that path because I am not done learning. Not even close.
I wish you can find that path too. Stop complaining, IT-DOES-NOT-HELP.
Yes, we all need to mourn sometimes. And we certainly should. We can cry, swear, yell, and COMPLAIN, but just for a little while. After that, you need to move forward. You can fall, mourn, and take a respite from the pain, but you will need to get back to the fight.
Don’t you believe you deserve that? Don’t you think you deserve better?
Pardoning ourselves can be very challenging. Believe me, I know the feeling. It took many hours of therapy and a lot of work on my part to allow myself a second chance at things. I still struggle with it sometimes.
I want you to make peace with yourself and let go of the mistakes you made in the past. Those mistakes are not you. You have overcome them to transform into who you are today. And if you feel like you cannot find that peace, forgive yourself or enjoy a respite, seek professional help.
Stop complaining and start doing.
Stop dreaming and start realizing.
A better life awaits. Go get it!
* Leslie Calvin "Les" Brown, (born Feb. 17, 1945), is an American motivational speaker and former member of the Ohio House of Representatives.