What is Personal Accountability?

In many ways the following quote by William H. Murray sums up personal accountability – “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

I believe personal accountability is an ongoing habitual commitment to yourself and what is important to you through –

Today I came across the book The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success – No Nonsense, No Excuses by Linda Galindo. In the book, Linda focuses on three similar key elements of personal accountability:

  • Personal responsibility is a “before-the-fact” mind-set of personal ownership and commitment to a result (page 58),
  • Self-empowerment is taking the actions – and the risks – that you need in order to ensure that you achieve the results you desire (page 147), and
  • Being accountable for your results requires an “after-the-fact” mindset of being willing to answer for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviors, and actions (page 225).

Early in the The 85% Solution Book, Linda shares her own wake-up call to practice personal accountability:

“Once upon a time, I was the Queen of Victims, with a shiny scepter, a sparkling crown, and a plush velvet robe, walking up and down the runway of Poor Me. Life didn’t work for me. My boss was a jerk. My parents didn’t encourage me. My husband was controlling. I got divorced. I complained and whined.

One day, a good and smart friend put a stunningly quick stop to it by asking me a revealing question that stung me like a slap in the face.

“Have you ever noticed that all the bad things you complain about happened when you were in the room? Have you ever considered that you might have something to do with your own rotten luck?”

I hadn’t” (page 11).

Being personally accountable in all areas of our life can be tough going sometimes, however there are a number of benefits to choosing personal accountability.


What are the Benefits of Personal Accountability?

There are a number of benefits to personal accountability including –

  • Decreased stress, increased productivity, better time usage, increased job and relationship satisfaction. As Linda says in the The 85% Solution Book, “…a lack of personal accountability is at the heart of chronic stress. It saps us of productivity. It wastes our time. It makes us less satisfied with our jobs, our relationships, and ourselves.” (page 231).
  • Helps you keep focused in your work and life and know where you are up too. For example – if you know where you are up to and how much time you have, it can be easier to say yes or no to an invitation and  make sure you don’t over commit yourself.
  • Builds trust with people. Not sure about this? Maybe think about how you react when someone keeps an appointment and is on time or when someone is late or doesn’t turn up to an appointment.
  • Helps you manage and keep track of where you are up to in different areas of your work and life (i.e. your health and/or finances).
  • Sharpe and Balderson (2005) found that children who were encouraged to take personal responsibility for their actions also had more positive social interactions (i.e. healthy relationships).


Questions for Reflection…

  • What does personal accountability mean to you?
  • How personally accountable are you? For example – are you on time to appointments? Finish what you start? Do what you say you are going to do?
  • Who are you accountable too in your life and work?
  • What external structures can you put into place to become more personally accountable?


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


References –

Galindo, L. (2009). The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success – No Nonsense, No Excuses. USA: Jossey-Bass.

Sharpe, T., and Balderson, D. (2005). The Effects of Personal Accountability and Personal Responsibility Instruction on Select Off-Task and Positive Social Behaviors. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, v24 n1 Jan 2005, 66-87.