I know a fairly wealthy entrepreneur whose daughter played the video game The Sims. One day, he discovered that she was using a cheat code to increase her ingame bank account, and he forced her to do manual labor around the house to make up for “the money she didn’t actually earn”.
I’ve since realized that he was teaching her accountability, which is a common trait in people who are able to break the barriers around them. My observation is that, when it comes to problems, there are two types of people:
- Those that blame others for their problems.
- Those that take ownership of their situations regardless of whether it’s their fault or not.
The second one will help you reach much higher heights than the first, although very few people are tough enough to stomach the action it takes. Every achiever I know holds themselves extremely accountable to everything in their life, regardless of whether or not their problems are in their control.
Simply put, instead of idly staying (and complaining) in situations they don’t like, they work to overcome their problems.
If you have problems in your life, handle them. You need to take responsibility for everything around you – there’s no one else to blame [for any of your problems] but you.
– Jocko Willink
commander of the most highly decorated Spec Ops unit of the Iraq War
Those who want others to fight their battles aren’t taking ownership of their own situations. In a way, I think this is natural selection at play: nature tests us all to see who is strong and who doesn’t want to do the work. But to solve life’s bigger problems, we need to hold ourselves accountable to our entire environments and make hard, active steps towards the outcomes we want while moving away from those we don’t. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is: it’s up to us to get where we want to be.
By taking ownership over any situation, regardless of whether it’s your fault or not, you’ll be able to take control of your own life. Excuses are heroin to our dreams, but accountability provides us with much more power than we think.