Personal Accountability to Earn Professional Success

Adopt Personal Accountability to Earn Professional Success

Read my article here too:  A PR Daily Top Article of the Week!

As a college professor my gratification comes from seeing a student achieve personally and professionally.  There is nothing more rewarding as an educator than seeing a young person take the initiative to develop the confidence and passion to reach their potential.  However, I too often see students who are unable or unwilling to take responsibility for their own choices, actions, behaviors and success.  These people blame everyone and anyone for things that go wrong in their lives and unwittingly sabotage their own professional fulfillment and personal happiness.

Here are five signs you are not being accountable and ways to change these negative, self-sabotaging habits:

  1. Excuses, excuses.   Do you blame your parents, roommate, significant other, unfair professors, bad bosses, the economy, etc. for your issues and problems?  If you answered yes, you are already in self-defeat mode.  Instead of coming up with the list of excuses of “why” things have not gone your way, consider how YOU can change your behaviors and attitudes.   Take responsibility for yourself and your choices.  Your success and failure is up to YOU.  Whether you work in a team, whether your professor or boss is difficult and unreasonable doesn’t matter.  The actions you take and the mindset you hold is yours alone.  If you are committed to positive results, academically, personally and professionally, you can take the initiative and action and to make things happen.  This also means you take responsibility for your role in both successes and mistakes (see point 5).
  2. Worry, worry.  Are you overwhelmed by your work, life, academics, deadlines, and demands on your time?  STOP!  The worst case scenario is you will stumble.  But allowing worry to take over your life has a paralyzing effect.  Instead, set and manage expectations and take control of your time.  Be clear about your priorities and those others may place on you.  Say no sometimes, resist negative influences and manage your time based on realistic goals and priorities.  Ask questions and seek guidance.  At the end of the day, you must be willing to WORK to deliver outcomes based on these expectations.  Sometimes this may be uncomfortable, but without effort you won’t reap rewards.
  3. Self-doubt and self- awareness.  Many of us have a lot of self-doubt about our abilities and potential.  Yet many also have an inflated sense of their abilities.  Self-confidence is important, but over-confidence without self-awareness is dangerous.  Seeking criticism and providing a realistic self- assessment of your personality, skills and abilities is an important step to being more accountable and successful.  Avoid being hyper-sensitive to criticism and instead try to learn, grown and improve on your shortcomings.   Be open and willing to take feedback without getting defensive.  And when you do well, own that too!  Share your successes with your boss, friends and family.
  4. Avoid “Debbie Downer” syndrome.  You can’t change past situations.  You can’t change other people.   It is easy to get stuck in negative mode and rehash what should have happened, who let you down and why things aren’t working.     Instead focus on where you are now and what YOU can do to move forward.  Consider how you can act and react from this point forward to be more productive and engage in positive behaviors that will likely have very different outcomes.
  5. Do you need to win at all costs?  Are you hurting other people or lowering your moral compass to get ahead?  This may provide you with short term gains, but instant gratification without integrity doesn’t last.  Be brave enough to do the right thing, even if the outcome may not always work in your favor. Don’t try to get out of bad situations by lying or trying to cover things up.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Admit it, say “sorry” and mean it.  Be prepared with a solution and plan to resolve the situation or issue.  Consider what you can do differently in the next situation and hold yourself accountable for this.    Integrity and accountability are two of the most powerful personal traits you can develop.

Change your mindset and hold yourself accountable for your own life decisions, behaviors and choices.   Surround yourself with people you respect who are honest and hardworking.  Avoid negative influences.   Adopt an attitude where any challenges are seen as opportunities, where problems can be redirected into solutions.  Force yourself to avoid excuses and take action.  Forget the past and aim towards positive and productive goals.  Take initiative.  Results will follow.

Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. She serves as the M.A. in Professional Communication graduate program co-director, communication internship coordinator and advisor to the Student Public Relations Association. Prior to her faculty position, she held senior-level positions at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Weber Shandwick Worldwide.  Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter:

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