A century or so ago, it was considered most prestigious to have been to college in Europe. An old-time preacher pointed out, however, that it did not matter very much to be “educated on the Rhine, if you could not bring home the bacon.”
It is my long-term observation that a crucial factor in one’s success in life is the ability and willingness to deliver. Habitual neglect in the area of accountability is the road to ruin.
It seems so simple to me. If you are hired to take out the trash, be sure you get the trash taken out. It would be nice if you washed the dishes or vacuumed the rug in addition to your primary responsibility, but not as a substitute for it. If you agree to do anything, get it done. If you agree to do something by a certain time, meet the deadline or do not rest until you minimize any inconvenience your delay may cause others.
A friend of mine went to work for a company a few years ago. I saw the head of the company one day and asked how things were working out with my friend as an employee. He said, “I’ve had to let him go.” He went on to explain that on more than one occasion my friend had locked up the store he was supposed to operate and gone for the day to do things of a personal nature. He had not asked permission to be off and finding the store closed was an unacceptable surprise to the owner.
I remember an encounter some years ago with my old friend and neighbor, Bunny Martin. In the midst of a conversation in his yard on Beal Street, he offered this jewel of wisdom: “Joe, always remember that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Accountability is important not only in our employment, but also in all our relationships. Most folks will overlook a little neglect, but when we become habitually undependable, radical adjustments will result.
We all make mistakes and fail from time to time to deliver. How can we protect our reputation in the area of accountability?
1. Keep commitments contained. Before agreeing to do anything, make sure the ability, time, and resources are available. Do not commit to that which you cannot or will not do.
2. When it is impossible to deliver, communicate. Explain. Ask forgiveness.
We may have charm and good looks, but personality ultimately takes a back seat to character. The Bible states that “charm is deceptive and beauty is vain.” We may have more great ideas and good intentions than anyone else in the firm, but ultimately they will be ignored if we cannot be depended upon to deliver. For security in employment and relationships, be accountable.