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In my lifetime, I have known the joys of success and the sorrows of what some might call failure. While some leaders only study what it means to lead, each moment for me is a beta test for living the lessons of leadership. If it were up to me to teach (and it may indeed be), I would begin with the lost art of accountability.

What in the world might that possibly mean? Is there any secret to this method that was not taught in any number of childhood stories, fables, or tales?

Does leadership look different in another culture? Are there those that are blessed with insights not given to every person at birth?

When it comes right down to the heart of the matter, nothing speaks more to every generation, than the lost art of accountability. Nothing, that is, except love, and that may be a lesson too difficult for those that are concerned with leadership in the first place.

Generations X,Y,Z

If there is anything that has been overcooked in the oven of thought, it is the labeling of this or that generation. Where there were boomers, hippies, and sell outs, now there are letters used to describe groups of people.

One of the sneakiest tricks the devil may have ever played on humanity, is the labeling of what I call “other”. Worse than the labeling of groups of people with titles like “Generation X,Y, or Z”, is the categorizing of personalities in what we commonly call “profiles”.

Cutting to the chase, we might say, every generation has its own set of blessings and curses, based on the work of the generations that came before them. Simply put, this ain’t your daddy’s world anymore.

Every age has brought the universal problem of finding meaning in a world which we did not design. Technology and progress provide satisfaction to those that have created pockets of comfort, and offer only bewilderment to those who come after that comfort.

If comfort were the solution, then what of the process to get there? What about the lost art of accountability?

Dialogue in the Dying of Things

Those that come after us see the dying of things. Those that came before us are learning the dying of things as well. While we are in the midst of striving, the temptation is to become attached to that for which we strive.

We would be well served if we understood the impermanence of everything in this world. To some extent, even the impermanence of the worlds to come are fair game for thought. Simply put, what was heaven to our forefathers might have already been realized, and what is considered heaven to our minds, might seem like hell to our children.

Our common goals should be the result of the musings of every generation. Every race, socioeconomic class, and even every culture in the world. That may indeed be too much for those in power to hear at the moment (power tends to create stubbornness).

Dialogue in the dying of things means that we are open to every viewpoint, because we realize that even our visions are informed by only that to which we have been exposed. It means opening our minds to everything and using everything to hone the blades of decision making.

With this vision of leadership in mind, with this method of teamwork in place, we come to the main theme of this article. The lost art of accountability.

Keep in mind, that love is the only idea that trumps this notion, but that topic is for another day.


The lost art of accountability is not lost because it is hidden, it is lost because it is more difficult than blame. Nothing about accountability is enjoyable in the beginning of that journey, though it saves massive amounts of time after it has become the goal of leaders, organizations, and those in any relationship (we are all in relationships).

Accountability looks a lot like asking for, and offering, forgiveness. It also looks a lot like saying, “my bad”, or “sorry about that”, and meaning what you say.

Tough decisions and even simple choices, when performed with accountability in mind, are committed to action with a grace in mind. Grace for those making decisions, and grace for those that will have to work with the decisions being made.

Grace looks a bit like love, though love, again, is a conversation separate from this one.

Accountability is having never to cover for a thing said or done, because honesty was the goal. It is making the best decision with the best information available at the time.

Accountability is there for the long haul. Even after position and pay fade into whatever worlds corporations and governments prop up with false foundations and supports.

What It Means

Most of what is missing in the world these days is easily summed up as humility. Not the false humility of religion, or the humility that might be celebrated in a Tik Tok video, but the simple understanding that we do not know everything about anything.

What killed the spirit of dialogue and the lost art of accountability, is the spewing of ideas for promotions or book deals. Trying to look smart so that we might be hired for a speaking gig or be asked to talk on an endless circuit of podcasts that anyone with a cell phone might produce.

Also what it means, is that integrity looks amazing in the darkness of those who trade their integrity for trinkets of gold or spotlights. Caring used to be a requirement, and now caring is a gem in so many piles of coal.

You are a treasure. You are different than what has been accepted as normal in a world of chaos and confusion.

Live your life knowing your mistakes have made you as much as your times of success.

This is the lost art of accountability.

That we are made by both the breaking and the making of things.

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Have a great day.

Kevin Thompson

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Author: Kevin Thompson

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