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Personal Accountability

How Responsibility and Accountability Work Together

by Scot Chadwick

The terms responsibility and accountability have at least two related but distinct meanings: being accountable and taking responsibility.

1. Being Accountable

Both words have the root idea of giving an account of yourself in response to someone else. They refer to your ability to answer others and explain your choices and actions.
Sometimes you voluntarily give an account of yourself to others. You do this when you ask someone to be an accountability partner. There are other times when you owe an explanation of yourself to someone. This may be in your marriage, workplace, church, or community.

Being accountable helps to confirm your honesty. While you might be self-deceived and seek to justify your failure, it is harder (though still possible) to hide the truth from others. Explaining yourself to others puts you in a position to acknowledge your failures and receive help so you can move forward in life.

Accountability helps to demonstrate your trustworthiness. It confirms that you have done what was expected of you or what you committed to doing. Giving an account can also reveal when you have failed to carry out your duties and commitments, helping you to make amends, change, and grow.

2. Taking Responsibility

The terms accountability and responsibility can also refer to another idea: managing yourself. The ability to honestly answer others presumes that you are diligently conducting your own life with self-control.

Taking responsibility shows that you can exercise self-discipline with maturity. You examine yourself to see how you can improve your life. Being responsible means that you are able to regulate yourself.

You do not blame others for your defeats or the hindrances you may encounter. You do all that is within your power and authority to pursue success regardless of what others do or don’t do.

You recognize that you are responsible for you. You make the right choices and do the right things at the right times. You cultivate discernment and understanding so you can wisely navigate through life.


These concepts of accountability and responsibility work closely together, and they can overlap in meaning. Being accountable presumes that you are being responsible. Both practices build confidence in yourself and earn trust from others.

Yes, you will encounter obstacles, challenges, and setbacks along the way. Seek to be reconciled with anyone you have hurt and make restitution when appropriate. Remember that the past is for learning from not for living in. You live in the present with a view toward the future.

Your progress is largely up to you. You can and must own your success. Press on and keep moving forward.

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