How many times a day do you find yourself asking questions? I’m not talking about asking for directions or if you can substitute something on a menu. I mean the type of questions that have a real impact on your day. These could be part of your self talk or questions that you vocalize to others.
The type of questions we ask are the best indicator of whether or not we feel in control of our own lives. If the eyes are the door to the soul, then our questions are the window into how our mind perceives personal accountability. The manner that our questions are phrased in, allow us to identify what our preconceived beliefs are about the subject.
Asking why, who and when questions often times indicate a victim mentality. Yea, I know that probably doesn’t sit well with you so let me provide some examples. Why is this happening to me? Who came up with that bright idea? When is the company going to realize that policy doesn’t work? Why can’t she see what is happening? Who is in charge of this place? When is the government going to do what is right for citizens? All of these are a relinquishment of personal responsibility.
Compare the questions above to these that encourage personal accountability. What can I do to improve the situation? How can I help? What part can I play to assist my co-workers? How are my thoughts affecting my results? What is the best solution to this problem? How can I improve my financial results? The best questions you can ask yourself usually involve what and how and also some form of I. These are the types of questions that promote personal accountability.
I know that for myself, I was asking the wrong questions during the most difficult time in my life. Although all areas of my life were affected, I’ll share just one aspect. Finances. During the prior two years I’d made an extra 33% on top of my normal income because of bonuses and stock options. As fast as that extra money hit our joint bank account, I was seeing it disappear just as quick as my husband decided there would be more where that came from. I was asking; why is he doing this? Why isn’t he following through on what we agreed upon? Who does he think he is, spending my money? When is he going to start behaving responsibly? Notice anything? These questions are all about someone else changing, as though what was happening was being done to me. At the time I didn’t realize I was thinking like a victim. That came later.
What I should have been asking at the time, preferably at the beginning of those two years, should have been questions about me and my accountability. What am I going to change? How am I going to invest the extra money I made? What am I going to do to take responsibility for what is happening? If I would have taken accountability personally rather than blame my husband, I could have and would have made different choices. Asking what and how questions would have forced me to adjust my thoughts and the results would have changed.
All of us have opportunities each day to decide if we are going to take personal accountability. I’m reminded of attending a meeting where a slide during a HR presentation said, “Accountability begins with YOU!”. Actually stating it in that way isn’t quite right as it points the preverbal finger in the other direction. Accountability begins with ME! I make my own choices. Each day there are circumstances that allow me to choose between blaming another or taking the bull by the horns and deciding that I can do something to make the situation better. I’d encourage you to pay attention to the questions you ask of yourself and others. Are they benefiting you by allowing you to be personally accountable? I hope they are.
My book, It’s Your Life….Own It! is about taking control of your own life. Let’s face facts, trying to change somebody else’s behavior probably hasn’t produced the results you were looking for. We can only change ourselves. Author / Book Link