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Traditional masculine virtues in ages past frequently put an emphasis on adopting as much personal responsibility and accountability as possible. These days, with our increasingly self-obsessed and image-driven culture, that value has perhaps taken a back seat.
The virtue of extreme accountability has also often been challenged by well-meaning people who are concerned that such an attitude puts men under too much pressure.
Yet there are, in fact, many reasons to think that this old-school value really is something of immense worth. Here are a few reasons why.
- Adopting a mentality of victimhood and excuse-making only disempowers you in the long run. Bad things happen to people, and people get victimised in ways both big and small. But when you adopt a mentality of victimhood, you only surrender the power to effect positive change in your own life, and to improve the lives of those close to you, in turn. Things often aren’t fair, but if you turn your locus of control to the external world and allow yourself to make excuses — especially good excuses — you put your fate into the hands of external agents. It’s up to the villain or hero to save you. You can’t do it for yourself. Adopting a mentality of extreme accountability, on the other hand, makes you the primary hero or villain of your life, with everyone else in a distant second. The power is in your hands to save or doom yourself.
- If you don’t take full responsibility for the state of your life and how you conduct yourself, you put yourself in a position where other people and their demands will rule your existence. People who fail to accept complete accountability for their own lives, are generally ruled by the people who they nominate to be accountable for them, instead. If you have a rough time in your personal relationships and are inclined to blame your romantic partners for sabotaging your wellbeing, for example, you ensure that you give them full executive power over your sense of wellbeing. They rule that domain of your life. What could you, personally, do to make things better, instead? Maybe you could start by addressing your own character flaws that could be contributing to the situation. Maybe you could start picking fights that need to be picked. Maybe you could start telling other people to step off, instead of telling you how to think, feel, act, what to care about, or what elements of yourself to like or dislike.
- Making excuses is contagious — you start small, and then you’re passing blame for everything. The issue isn’t that people never have good excuses. Of course they do. The issue is that if you get into the habit of making excuses, rather than owning the situation you find yourself in, and taking proactive steps to improve it, you start down a slippery slope that almost inevitably spirals out of control. It might be that you’ve lost your job due to a bad round of office politics and unfair department cuts. You’d be justified in complaining about this unfair treatment. But if you were to use it as an excuse for remaining unemployed rather than jumping straight back into the job hunt, you’d be setting yourself up for a world of trouble.
How often do we all notice the epidemic tendency to make excuses, in others? Today, you excuse yourself in a more understandable manner. But 6-months down the line, you find that you don’t have the lanyard you need for a particular event. Instead of making a quick plan and ordering a replacement from lanyardsfactory.com.au, you have a huge blow-up with your wife and accuse her of misplacing your things.
Note: this post contains contributed content.