Accountability means being accountable to ourselves first—and that requires a special kind of commitment. There are certain elements of mindfulness and presence that make the kind of commitment I am talking about possible. We can think of this in terms of what I call choice points.

All day long, you and I make choices. What is the choice we make when someone cuts us off in traffic, or says something mean to us, or steps in front of us in line? What is the choice we make when we see someone drop a bag of groceries, or when we get a text from a friend or loved one who needs emotional support? Whether we realize it at the time or not, these choices we make define us.

Are we on autopilot? Or are we being purposeful as we respond to the situation in front of us? Are we really PRESENT? Are we truly aware of what we are doing? Are we making conscious choices, based on the specific commitments we have made to ourselves about the kind of person we are choosing to be?

Autopilot is easy. Maintaining conscious presence at each and every one of these moments as our day moves forward is sometimes a struggle.

Responding in accordance with our own commitments can be a struggle. Stepping away from our own force of habit is a struggle. The struggle is good. The struggle is necessary. If it is not a struggle, it is not a choice point!

The kind of commitment that delivers the best possible response to each and every choice point does not just happen. It is the work of a lifetime, and it takes steady practice. That may sound intimidating. What I want you to notice now, though, is that the long-term practice we are discussing always involves presence in the moment that you are experiencing right now.

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The very best personal accountability practice involves your present-tense awareness of 10 specific, personal commitments to yourself and others:


COMMITMENT #1: COMMIT TO DISCOVER AND REALIZE YOUR POTENTIAL…AND TO HELP OTHERS REACH THEIRS

COMMITMENT #2: COMMIT TO THE TRUTH

COMMITMENT #3: COMMIT TO THE VALUES

COMMITMENT #4: COMMIT TO “IT’S ALL OF US”

COMMITMENT #5: COMMIT TO EMBRACE FAULTS AND FAILURES AS WELL AS OPPORTUNITIES AND SUCCESSES

COMMITMENT #6: COMMIT TO SOUND FINANCIAL PRINCIPLES

COMMITMENT #7: COMMIT TO A SAFE SPACE

COMMITMENT #8: COMMIT TO “MY WORD IS MY BOND”

COMMITMENT #9: COMMIT TO STAND STRONG WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE

COMMITMENT #10: COMMIT TO A GOOD REPUTATION


I believe these 10 INTERRELATED commitments can help us notice and respond effectively to the most critical choice points at the moment they arise. They can help us pause, become fully engaged in the moment, and make the choice that is truest to our best selves. It is only in the choice points that we make the decision to live out the commitments that define us. Only in that moment can we exercise our free will and live out those commitments.

These 10 specific commitments are the commitments that people who live truly accountable lives make to themselves… resolve to take on in their relationships with others… and renew constantly during the day as they encounter their own choice points.

Making these 10 commitments to yourself is the first, essential step in building an accountable life and an accountable world—the step without which nothing happens. Action always follows belief. If you develop a strong personal belief in the importance of these commitments, and if you begin acting on those beliefs, you will benefit from them. If you do not, you will not. It is that simple. If you do not believe it, you will never do it.

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From the book: I Am Accountable
Copyright © 2019 by Sam Silverstein
Published by Sound Wisdom