Accountability

Written by Wil

I wanted to share with you the single, most important trait I’ve acquired in my life: accountability. The moment I accepted the fact that I’m the only person responsible for me was the moment I began to consider myself successful. It took me years before I finally learned to hold myself accountable, but it’s been the greatest lesson I’ve learned.

We often assume the way we see things is the way they really are.

Our society is very quick to place blame, because that’s what’s easiest. We blame other people in our lives, blame people in power. “I haven’t gotten promoted because my boss doesn’t know what he’s doing.” “The government hasn’t done enough to end racism.” We rarely look at ourselves to see how we may have contributed to these situations, which is the only part that we actually can control. We see one side of the coin and treat that as the end-all, be-all. We don’t take the time to consider other perspectives. Other possibilities.

Just because we’re sure we aren’t wrong doesn’t mean we’re right. It’s so simple and takes no effort to point out what other people should’ve done to improve a situation. Don’t debate a point unless you truly understand both sides of the argument. Great leaders understand their opponent’s side. That’s how they can make informed decisions. Understand your opponent and you can better emerge victorious against him.

Opportunities often come disguised as obstacles.

You may have a boss you don’t like. Maybe you feel he’s incompetent or he favors other employees. Maybe you feel he’s the reason you haven’t made it further in your career. Your boss is the obstacle. You can either use this as an opportunity or an excuse.

If you decide to not work as hard because it isn’t worth it? Because you want to prove a point to him? You’re simply using him as an excuse to not put forth full effort. It’s an excuse to be lazy. If you decide to that you aren’t going to advance in your current position because of him, so you stay and complain about your situation? You’re using him as an excuse to accept failure.

Instead, you could turn this into an opportunity. First, you need to be reflective and take an honest look at why your boss “doesn’t like you”. A major part of your boss’ success is directly tied to you and your coworkers’ performance. Managers tend to gravitate towards their best employees because those are the ones who offer them the best chance for success. Favoritism is not only common, but basically a prerequisite of top leaders. Is there something you could be doing differently to increase his or her perception of you? Could you be doing something to make yourself more valuable?

You can’t control the outcome, only the effort. 

It’s why I’ve never worried about cheating in a relationship. I can’t control what my wife does when I’m not around. What I can control is how I treat her when I’m with her. If I can be a good enough husband, I’m confident that she wouldn’t ever have to look anywhere else. If she does? Then I wasn’t the right person for her to begin with.

Instead, people waste time worrying about what their partner is doing. Trying to control them. In the process, they aren’t maximizing the time that they do have together – which is exactly the type of thing that could drive him or her away in the first place. It makes no sense when you think about it, yet we do it all the time.

My philosophy is – enjoy every moment that you have with someone. You never know when it might be your last, for any number of reasons. If my wife told me tomorrow that she was moving on? I’d be devastated. But I wouldn’t have any regrets because I’ve had the best 12 years of my life and I know I did everything I could and it just wasn’t enough. I maximized our time together. I put in the effort. That’s all I could do.

It’s the same in my career. I put forth maximum effort in everything I do. I was recently impacted negatively during a restructuring, causing me to be out of work. However, I have no regrets because I know I gave everything I could. I controlled the effort, the outcome was out of my hands. That’s the key to living a life without regret. And in the long term? I’m confident that my efforts have made enough of an impact on those I worked with that I won’t stay unemployed for long.

Circumstance helps determines if someone will become successful. You can’t control chance occurrences. See, I don’t believe in luck. I do believe that we all have circumstances that occur in our life and “luck” is simply being prepared and taking advantage of the opportunity when they happen. Luck is executing opportunities.

Point the blame on yourself

We all complain about music. We blame the labels and radio for hip-hop not being lyrical. Then, when Common and Nas drop lyrical, musical projects? Nobody buys them. Programming Directors at radio stations aren’t listening to new music trying to decide what the next trend will be. We determine what is popular. Radio stations are just advertising companies. The content is irrelevant to them. They play what will draw the largest audience so they can charge more for advertising. Radio didn’t ruin hip-hop – fans ruined hip-hop. Record labels only put money behind what consumers will buy. Radio plays what we will listen to. Every fan has the ability to change what type of music is supported. If a million people buy Lil’ Wayne and 100K buy Nas, the labels and radio are going to play more Lil’ Wayne.

So we can either complain and point fingers and find big corporate monsters to blame, or we can focus on what we can control. We can each start by buying albums and merchandise from artists we enjoy. We can attend concerts. We can support artists on websites and call into radio stations.

Or – we can just enjoy our music and not worry about who the radio plays. Because, at the end of the day, there is plenty of great, lyrical hip-hop to listen to – it just isn’t as popular. There’s Skyzoo, Sha Stimuli, Honors English, etc. We just want it to be popular so we can say we were right. It’s all pride and ego. Stop pointing fingers, because it’s a waste of time. Be glad we live in an era where we can hold 20,000 songs in our phone and access millions more via internet streaming.

Same with this blog. I get so many tweets from people who enjoy my writing. Well, the articles are free, but you can invest time. Help me grow my audience and it’ll lead to more content. Entertainment is doesn’t cost money these days. Blogs, music downloads, YouTube – we’re spoiled. We think because it doesn’t cost money, that it’s free. No. The investment you  must make now is in time. 

If you enjoy blogs like mine, support them/us! Leave comments and rate (which helps raise the rankings in google searches), RT the articles on twitter (multiple times, if you can). Same with independent artists. Comment and stream their music from every available website. You can’t put in minimal effort and then complain when there isn’t more of what you enjoy available. Support and invest in those who create what you enjoy.

Remember, opportunity often comes disguised as an obstacle.

Everybody has their own unique set of circumstances and challenges.

We often use obstacles as crutches. Race, for example, explains why we haven’t it further in life. I’m sorry, but everybody is born with their own set of challenges. For some, it’s race. For some, it’s financial. Some are born into poor neighborhoods and some have abusive parents. What it all comes down to is – your challenges are merely excuses and crutches. We’re blessed to live in a world where we all have the opportunity to overcome these. Major companies are filled with minority CEOs. Is it more difficult? Yes. Are there less minorities in key corporate positions? Yes. But the opportunity is there. There are people who haven’t had the opportunity to go to college. Some whose parents sexually abused them as children. There are all sorts of obstacles that make attaining success challenging. But that’s why it’s success. It isn’t supposed to be easily attainable.

Don’t combat racism with more racism. Don’t use economic challenges as an excuse to sacrifice integrity to gain money. That only grows the problem. Solutions are often long, slow processes that the people who initiate the change don’t get to enjoy the results of. We initiate change for those who come after us.

Stop worrying about why you haven’t been able to do something and focus simply on how to achieve it.

Perception is reality.

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. Good employees don’t usually have rumors spreading around them. They aren’t the subject of gossip. They don’t have to explain why they’re late because being late isn’t a habit. If two times a week, you’re explaining that the train was delayed or there was traffic, the problem is you. Because, truth is, 90% of the people at your office manage to make it in on time, and they all have travel challenges. If your train is delayed two times a week, you need to be proactive and plan for that. Either leave earlier or find an alternate route. The responsibility is yours. If you’re an employee who is almost never late, I promise – you won’t have to explain yourself to your boss on those rare occasions that something out of the ordinary happened.

Ask yourself why a company would hire someone who’s so blatantly incompetent. If your boss is really that bad, it means that his or her boss has terrible judgement. And someone hired that person. So how far up the chain does this go? At some point, do you ever think that maybe every upper level executive in the company doesn’t have poor judgment? That maybe the problem isn’t them, but you?

And even if the problem is his incompetence – that is something that is out of your control. The focus needs to be on how you can make the most of this opportunity and turn the negative into a positive.

I will not lose. Cus even if I do? It’s a valuable lessoned learned, so it evens it out for me.

For instance, you can try and win over a boss. You can learn the things that you don’t want to do when you’re in his or her position. In many ways, I’ve learned more from the bosses that I didn’t have confidence in than I did the ones I admired.

Musicians often do this. They find every reason in the world to blame for them not being successful. Labels don’t sign “real” music. “Fans in (insert hometown) don’t support local artists.” In the internet age, there is no reason for not building a buzz other than you. Anyone with internet access can reach the world. There have been far too many success stories to blame anyone else for you not becoming successful.

And that’s exactly how life is. If you get fired from a job, it doesn’t much matter why. The only reason that “why” is important is so you can learn what you need to improve. But it won’t change the result – that you no longer have your job. Every time something goes wrong, try and objectively look at it and decide what you could’ve done differently to change the outcome. Then, even the negatives become positives.

That’s the lesson here. The excuses? They don’t matter. You’re the only one who controls your life. When things happen in life – the Trayvon Martin shooting – or anything else – complaining about what other people need to do is a waste of time. What you can do, however, is focus on the little things that you can do to improve.

What matters most in life is not what happens to us, but how we react to what happens.

Using work as an example again, you can’t control if you have a difficult boss or colleague. What you can control, however, is how you react to the situation. The reaction is what will ultimately determine your life’s path. But how you react to minor events, the every day annoyances, completely shapes how you’ll react when real life obstacles are in front of you. If you react poorly to discouraging situation at work, it’ll inevitably lead to poor results.

It is in the ordinary events of every day that we develop our proactive skills. It is in the little things that we show our true character traits. Our response to the little irritations in life will also affect responses to disasters.

I’d love to read your comments below.

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About the author

Wil

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  • Man, that was a good article. It applies to so much more than just work and music though – as people we need to learn to be more accountable. I’ve struggled with this in the past – blamed not having enough time to study for why I did badly on a test, blamed having to go to class and clinicals for why I didn’t manage my money properly – but in the end? I could have not gone out to the bar one night and had more time to study the next day. I could have set myself up on a budget and not had the problems with money that I had. And I eventually did learn to take those obstacles and turn them into opportunities. I’ve learned to manage my time better and I’ve leaned to manage my money better because I CHOSE to. Applies to friendships, relationships, everything. I’ve also learned the value of supporting people with your time. In today’s age, it’s one of the most valuable things you can invest in someone. Nicely done brother, couldn’t agree more.

  • Leave comments and rate (which helps raise the rankings in google searches), RT the articles (multiple times, if you can).

    Not when a writer makes some thought-provoking stuff and require a blog just to rebut (yeah, that’s how good my writing is.).

    For instance, you can try and win over a boss. You can learn the things that you don’t want to do when you’re in his or her position. In many ways, I’ve learned more from the bosses that I didn’t have confidence in than I did the ones I respected.

    Takes me back to a job that I had. The place was terrible. I won’t go into detail about how bad it was, and I complained about it BUT I went in there (day in & day out) and worked my butt off. I was fired, and I didn’t think I’d find another job (for a while), but I did. Working at that job forced me to find out what I didn’t want to experience (again) from another employer, so despite the memories, I give it a lot of credit for shaping my future…

    But yeah, you gotta go through Hell to get to Heaven, it’s just the way life operates.