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Accountability vs Responsibility

Most people use these two words interchangeably, do you?

I did a quick search and received the following results:

Accountability:  (noun) the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility

Responsibility:  (noun) the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone

It is interesting that the definition for accountability includes responsibility; that is, I believe, one of the fundamental challenges with understanding the two are different.

I used to use them interchangeably.  However, as I have continued my Life Coaching Journey, and my journey with The Responsibility Process, my views have changed. 

In my practice today, I view accountability as how one is expected to perform.  It has to do with how one keeps agreements, manages expectations; accountability tends to focus on others and in the past.  

Responsibility, on the other hand, is focused internally on oneself and concerns the present.  It is a feeling of ownership.  Broken down, it means the “ability to respond”.  

Think about that for a second – if it is a Feeling, I can control it (remember, Thoughts control our Feelings).  And, if I have Feel responsibility for something, those Actions I take will demonstrate that Feeling.   Finally, if I CHOOSE to take responsibility, there is very little chance someone else will need to hold me accountable (here, other’s expectations of me).   Imagine that power!

What do you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.

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