Full disclosure. When I was in high school I would annoy my friends with Words of Wisdom that I also called WOW’s (get it? Yeah I was corny) and they would immediately scatter because they didn’t want to hear them. In their defense, my words of wisdom were usually some cracked out phrase with random sayings that made no sense. For example, A pale cat dances by the moonlight but falters when looking from within. Did you figure out what that meant? Yeah they didn’t either and for the record neither did I. It just sounded cool and deep.
In this case I will actually try and relay something that does (hopefully) make sense. And that’s the importance of being accountable. Moreover, being able to own and admit when you are wrong.
Everyday, I see countless examples in politics, pop culture, and situations in my daily life where people just can’t be accountable for their actions. Instead of just saying I was wrong, I messed up, or even a simple my bad, they choose to come up with excuses and turn the table on other people or give a myriad of reasons of why they did what they did. I’m not saying giving reasons for actions is a bad thing. As a matter of fact depending on the level of mistake, the reasoning is necessary for a person to move on. However, don’t diminish the apology or accountability by covering it with excuses.
Here’s an example.
Someone emailed me and said they couldn’t find an attachment to a portal we use. I sent him a screenshot and told him exactly where to find it and lucky for me it was time stamped to show that it was there the day before and I didn’t just miraculously stick it there. Instead of the person saying, My bad, I overlooked it, I got a paragraph long email about how it wasn’t there originally but when he logged out and logged back in magically it was there. Moreover, he couldn’t understand how it happened, and why the system has so many glitches blah blah blah. First of all, the easiest way to know someone is lying is when they explain too much but I digress. How did such a simple action and answer warrant a full scale OJ Simpson level defense response? It’s not even that serious.
What’s important is, you know see the attachment so let’s all move on with our lives shall we?
There is a need in society to always be right or not appear simple minded but here’s the truth. Making a mistake whether it’s big or small does not make you a less intelligent or horrible person. IT MAKES YOU HUMAN
I was once going back and forth with someone about something and I could tell that this woman came prepared with scenarios that she felt she could use against me that were going to trip me up. If I had to check her notebook there were probably notes of how she could defend herself and possible answers to any answer she thought I would give. The first example she used was spot on, and here’s the kicker….I told her that. I said “You are absolutely right.” Seconds passed and she just froze. That was not what she was expecting and apparently me being accountable negated whatever other ammunition she came in there with. She needed a moment to get herself together and I decided to use that time to point out to her that when I’m wrong, I dont have a problem saying I’m wrong. Once that was out of the way, we could move on to what the real issue was. Ironically, after I admitted I was wrong, she was comfortable admitting that she handled another scenario incorrectly. See how that works?
So much time could have been wasted and we never got to the goal because it was going to turn into a blame game. Both of us would walk out and the true loser in this would have been the project that we were collaborating on.
As an adult or just a decent human being, if you make a mistake admit it. It’s just that simple. The energy spent in coming up with a defense is energy that could be used coming up with a solution.
If I walk away from a decision or situation that doesn’t make me feel right, I immediately self reflect. A delayed apology or acknowledgment of an error is better than nothing. Before I hit you with a cliched statement like it’s not about falling down but how you get back up, I encourage you to take accountability the next time you make a mistake and see how the other person reacts. Not only that but how it will change your dynamic with them. It will work wonders.