One of my favorite poems is W.E. Henley’s “Invictus.” I read it for the first time in my literature class way back in college. That was the time when I started to ask a lot of questions about many things – not the way a curious child would but the way a young adult searching for a personal identity ought to. The poem impressed upon me a strong belief. It created a mind-set, a value that helped shaped who I am now – that a person is in-charge of his own destiny. That whatever (or whoever) a person becomes is the sum total of all the decisions he makes.
For me, the day a person says “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” is the day that he is embracing personal accountability. Thenceforth he becomes responsible for his words, thoughts, and actions and whatever decisions he makes he ought to own them. If he succeeds and becomes happy as a result of his decisions he will take the full credit and benefits. Conversely, should he fail, should he not succeed in his boldness to take on the challenges of life refusing help from anyone, he knows there’s nobody to blame, not even himself. He acknowledges that being self-sufficient is not a fault. Recognizing that each person has his own mountain to climb and that it is wrong to become an additional burden to anybody is a virtue, not a fault.
It is the person who makes himself a burden to his fellowmen that should be faulted. He should be faulted for not making himself personally accountable for his own life. He should be faulted for thinking that it is the responsibility of his fellowmen to help him. Yes, “no man is an island” but each person should think that nobody could force anyone to offer help. Helping is something that nobody could demand from anyone. It flows naturally from the generosity of a pure heart.
Believe that people know when somebody really needs help. The good-hearted among them would definitely offer a hand. However, they are also wise, they are capable of determining if the problems a person is facing resulted from his unwillingness to embrace personal accountability. They know if a person is stuck in a hole dug by his own laziness and vices. They know that that person does not deserve help. Never assume that generous people are dumb. No person should push himself to the edge because of his irresponsibility thinking that somebody would hold his hand before he falls to the bottom of regrets. Nobody might and he would come crashing down to his certain demise.
The person who acknowledges personal accountability blames neither himself nor anyone when he fails in his undertakings. Instead of falling into the deadly trap of the blame game, he tries to figure out what went wrong and learn from his mistakes. He considers failures as pathways to attainment. He won’t stop until he succeeds, no matter how many times he fails.
On the other hand, a person without it (personal accountability) blames not himself but others for all his failures. For whatever misfortunes he encounters it is always someone else’s fault. When he fails in his relationships, the other party is to be blamed for failing to satisfy the standards he set. When he resigns from his job, it’s because his co-workers and his boss suck. When he could not find a new job, he blames the government. Even for simple matters like coming late for an appointment he would put the blame on someone or something else – like the traffic and the weather.
Heaven forbid that he also blames his parents for their being poor (if his parents are) and their being unable to leave a fortune he could inherit. Heaven forbid that he blames his siblings and relatives, branding them selfish for not sharing their blessings to him.
The list of people and things he blames for his bad luck and adversities is so long but has forgotten to put himself on top of it.
It is not difficult to identify a person who is allergic to personal accountability. He is the one who whines at everything and whinges every time. He is never satisfied. His standards of excellence are so high that it seems none of the geniuses, past or present, could ever earn his approval.
For the person who lacks personal accountability there is always something wrong. The problem is he offers no solution to the wrongs and ills he sees. Compounding the dilemma is his strong sense of entitlement feeling that people around him should find a solution to his own problems. He is not satisfied not helping find solutions to problems, he also wants others to solve his own.
It is not obligatory for any person to offer solutions to all the wrongs and ills – to fight all evils. Voluntarism is a rare virtue. And if you’re not that somebody with a strong sense of personal accountability who would come forward to resolve the problems, if you could not offer a solution to the problems, please don’t add up to the problem. Be not the problem.
At least, each person is being called upon to tread the path of self-sufficiency. Take care of you own problems and don’t bother others for them, directly or indirectly. Self-sufficiency is the starting point to the journey to personal accountability.