Etymology Word of the Day: Accountability

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Accountability (uh-koun-tuhbil-i-tee) v.  – 1770, from accountable + ity.  Accountable “answerable,” literally “liable to be called to account,” c.1400 (mid-14c. in Anglo-French).

“It’s easy to dodge accountability, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging accountability.” ―Anonymous

My wife and I have a love-hate relationship: She loves to point out my faults and I hate to hear it!

Honestly, does anyone really love being told where they’re falling short? It can be a painful experience to be sure, but I have learned over the years, the pain—as much as I would like to deny it—does not come from my wife or any other external source. The pain actually comes from within; from my wrestling with the truth of who I really want to be and who I really am right now.

The word accountability often gets a bad rap because we use it almost exclusively in a negative connotation. Think about it, when was the last time you heard the word accountability? Was it in a positive light, with someone encouraging you to embrace it for the self-development tool that it is? Or was it from your boss citing how she was going to hold you accountable for this month’s lackluster performance on the Richardson Account?

Like the definition implies, the word accountable simply means giving an account or being answerable. This, in and of itself, is neither negative nor positive—whatever context we assign it will determine its usefulness or threat.

While it’s true that many a manager or boss has wielded accountability as a personal punishment instrument, recognizing accountability for the self-mastery opportunity it creates allows us to respond with honesty and purpose and opens the door for genuine dialogue and feedback; for learning and growth.

About mwgrigs

I have three great loves in my life: learning, being useful, and my family. Sometimes I blow it royally in all three areas, other times I'm a rock star. I plan on spending the rest of my life exploring the possibilities of making each of those areas truly awesome!

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