Being accountable means you’re willing to look in the mirror and take responsibility for your actions and outcomes. We all want to believe that we’re accountable. But are we really?

Think back to the last time something didn’t go well or a time when you feel you failed. (Remember, “failed” is a verb, not a noun. You may have failed to achieve a particular goal but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure.) Why didn’t things go as planned?

List the reasons, in order of priority. How far down the list is the first factor you could have controlled? If your top responses included factors outside your control, you may not be as accountable as you think you are.

When it comes to accountability, top performers always look at themselves first. They may not always like the conditions or situations in which they have to perform, but they take final ownership. Lower-performing players are more likely to blame their fails on external factors.

As you reflect on your various accomplishments and disappointments, answer these five questions as honestly as possible:

  • Did I prepare or practice enough?
  • Did I give it my full focus?
  • Did I have a clear strategy?
  • Did I take shortcuts?
  • Did I make the right decision?

You may not like the answers, but identifying your weakness will position you for more wins in the future. Accountability starts from within, and that makes all the difference.