Personal Accountability: The Influence You Have on the World

What does personal accountability mean to you? Do you even realise the influence you have on the world?

Everyone influences someone. We may not be leaders, but we are in leadership; we may not be powerful, but we have power. And we may not have responsibility but we are responsible. An old adage* states, “No man is an island.” Even those living the most isolated of lifestyles have influenced someone, are influencing someone or will influence someone. You cannot be human and not influence someone or something in this world.

When Does Influence Begin?

As parents, we influence our children. Early childhood experts tell us that a child’s personality is fixed by the age of five years old. In those early preschool years, children lay foundations for everything they will need to learn for the rest of their lives. While they watch the significant adults in their lives, they learn from the values, morals and the behaviours they see portrayed in us. We influence our children in more ways than we sometimes understand.

As members of a work team, we influence our colleagues every day, even if we do not have leadership responsibility over them. When we interact and work with them, we challenge work ethics and habits. We help people learn new ways of doing their jobs, and to approach time management in a new way. Our influence can help create a harmonious and happy working environment. But a lack of team focus by any member of a workplace can create an environment of hostility and jealousy. This reduces productivity and decreases job satisfaction.

Accepting Responsibility

When we realise the influence we consciously or subconsciously have over other people, we are more willing to accept personal responsibility for our actions and reactions to particular circumstances and situations. It challenges us to consider others’ needs and the consequence of our actions and words.

There are those, however, who live with a very self-focused view. This attitude is characterised in adverts on TV that suggest we have every right to focus on our personal rights and to indulge our dreams and desires. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this attitude unless in the process we forget we are not an island and what we do will always influence others. We lead others by example.

What do you think? Do you agree with the above? Let us know in the comments! 👍🏻

Suggested reading:


*The Origins of “No Man is an Island”

English poet John Donne, writing in the 17th century, famously wrote, “No man is an island,” comparing people to countries, and arguing for the interconnectedness of all people with “God”.

In the book, No Man Is an Island, religious scholar and theologian Thomas Merton writes sixteen essays delving into aspects of human spirituality. If you’d like to check out it out, the book is linked here.

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