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It is an open secret that we cannot control other people’s behaviour. Nor can we influence all the outcomes of the outside world.
As a result, this means that our lives might turn out in unexpected ways. And it is okay if that happens. However, there is one thing that nothing and no person can take away from us: the ability to choose how we can perceive and respond to the situations that happen in our lives.
At the heart of our freedom also exists the power to direct positive change.
That’s why it’s important to protect any kind of personal freedom by making accountability a top priority.
Here’s how taking responsibility can look like, in a nutshell:
- Be self-reliant.
- Acknowledge your mistakes.
- Make time to self-reflect.
- Keep the promises you make to other people.
- Lead with empathy. Propose solutions that benefit other people.
- Never look for people to blame when things go unfavourably.
- Be honest with yourself first, and living truthfully with others will follow.
The socio-economic challenges that have challenged South Africa (more so after the coronavirus epidemic’s initial spread in 2020) have been difficult to bear.
Businesses have had to close their doors. Employees from a variety of industries have been laid off. The high rate of unemployment is slowly becoming a long-standing national toothache. And the increase in the petrol price within a timeframe of three years (from 2019) has placed further pressure on the economy.
In yesteryear, the plight of the youth of 1976 was largely a political one. People lived within oppressive government systems. For example, Bantu Education forced the use of Afrikaans as lingua franca at all school levels, for all subjects. It was a system designed to segregate, maintain inequality and stifle large groups of people, especially people of colour.
Perhaps, the above-mentioned challenges might be an opportunity to take personal and collective responsibility that will help create the necessary solutions.
It’s important that in the midst of challenges, we are able to direct attention toward the advantages that we do have.
For this article, we have broken up the ways in which we can take accountability in our lives into three segments.
Let’s go through each one:
Beware of running towards excuses when life goes wrong
A common tell-tale sign of an irresponsible person is that they focus their minds on finding excuses to defend themselves.
It’s important to continuously self-check. To look at your life and your behaviour with fair eyes and see the truth. And when you find that truth, say it out loud – even if it goes against you.
Taking accountability is an act of courage and growth. When you openly admit your mistakes, you become free from the habit of making excuses.
Dedicate time for self-reflection
The first step to taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions is becoming more self-aware.
When you analyse your behaviour, it allows you to develop a strong sense of self. You gain balance because you can stop yourself from falling into bad habits. With a clear understanding of your thoughts and actions, you’ll better understand the behavioural patterns that lie behind your actions.
One way to build a space for self-reflection is to keep a journal. Write about your daily experiences, thoughts and ideas.
A consistent writing habit will allow you deep insight into yourself. The more you write, the more you will have information to refer back to. Self-reflection offers you an opportunity to study your own habits and take note of the recurring patterns.
Be proactive and offer solutions to collective challenges
For example, when a classmate is struggling to understand and ace a few of the modules you’re studying, take time to offer them assistance.
Being proactive is an advantageous habit. With consistent practice, it allows you to easily connect the dots between ideas, people and information.
However, in being accountable, you can a more proactive approach by correcting poor behaviour and making better decisions.
Armed with an accountability mindset, you can easily choose to take actions that correct poor behaviour and help you and other people make better decisions.
Openly admit your faults
When things go wrong, lean towards taking your fair share of criticism.
It’s better when the hard-to-swallow truths come from your own reflection. And even when someone else points out your flaws, you’d have built a patient ear to find something to learn from feedback instead of turning to defensive mode.
Here’s another hack: Practice empathy.
Oftentimes, our mistakes might affect a larger number of people, other than the ones in our immediate circle. In a professional environment, where people work within teams, it’s important to recognize the amount of pain and inconvenience our actions cause.
On the political and student leadership front, it’s always a wise choice to sharpen your governance skills.
For instance, the ability to build healthy relationships and lead groups of people are lifelong skills that will serve you well at school and in the workplace.
Many concepts that are associated with the word political are instantly treated with suspicion. However, when used wisely, the decision to develop your political awareness can be the start of positive change in your life.
Political skills can be defined as the competence that helps people build valuable social networks, lobby and influence others, demonstrate great social etiquette, pay attention to detail and be sincere in dealings with other people.
If there’s anything we can take away, let it be this idea: when we avoid blame and never acknowledge our mistakes, we miss out on countless opportunities to grow.