accountability for one’s actions


From our earliest days as successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, two major characteristics we “owned” were inner commitment and inner discipline. In our early stages of growth, we had a clear idea of who we were and of the powerful skills we possessed. We were honest with ourselves when we saw we were straying from our goals; this kept us focused and on track. As our businesses, lives, roles and skills exponentially diversified, we found ourselves being many things to many people, which required many masks. Our inner commitment and discipline gradually became more externalized and ultimately became a natural mechanism allowing us to bring order, control and stability to our demanding lives. Eventually, when situations or events went wrong, we may have immediately placed blame on others. This externalized power permitted us to always be right, no matter what we did. When the circumstances worsened, many of us became victims. Or in contrast, some of us may have taken on all of the blame, “because this strategy did not work, there must be something wrong with us”; we became martyrs. Both perceptions can and often do become habits which cloud our clarity in dealing with the reality of “what is”. At such times, our inner commitment and discipline have become extreme perfectionism. Inevitably, we continually set ourselves up for failure, or for complete lack of accountability. As a result, we became masters of rationalization, who could justify almost anything in our lives.

When we create patterns of decision making that are not consistently rational, the very problems we have been denying, burying, being dishonest with ourselves about, will manifest in significantly painful outcomes. In these difficult circumstances, we often find ourselves criticizing, complaining, finding fault, manipulating or retaliating in inappropriate ways. We become deeply imbedded in toxic energy. Eventually, we become exhausted and cannot even call upon our old allies of inner commitment and discipline - as they are still trapped in the guise of perfectionism and are clouded with the “could-haves, would-haves and should-haves”.

As we begin to see how our actions or inactions contribute to our problems, we awaken our inner commitment to our true self. We once again understand the value of the discipline of rigorous honesty with ourselves and with others. We begin to identify areas where we justify our way through problems. We see our own pretenses, increase our self-awareness and regain our personal honesty. As new patterns in our leadership skills develop, we begin to create solutions to challenges that at one time seemed insurmountable.

A Reflection

“When I first began my journey through the concept of justification, I truly believed that I did not justify anything. As I became more knowledgeable about the concept, I realized that I was justifying my justifications, fully believing what I was doing was right and thus, not recognizing them for what they were. I began to see how any, even tiny rationalizations are harmful and a potential slippery slope.

My goal now is to never employ justification, but to instead find other ways of accomplishing the ends I am seeking, such as through gentle, yet rigorous honesty and acceptance. As a result of this process, I now recognize when I am headed down the path of justification and am able to alter my course. Subsequently, I have become truer to myself and more adept at communicating with others.”

Leah Brash, CEO Healthcare Technology

When an inner situation is not made conscious, it shows as fate... The more we know about ourselves, the more choices we have. We can then choose not to behave in a certain way....this is one of the great discoveries of life – freedom through authenticity.
— Carl Jung


Questions for Self-Exploration

The content, structure and flow of this exercise are designed to guide you in:

  • examining your experiences of and use of justification in your youth

  • evaluating your commitment to honesty

  • becoming aware of your use of justification