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The Hero and the Victim

We have all heard a child say to an adult, “It’s not my fault” or “They made me do it!” Adults often say the same sort of things when faced with their personal accountability, with phrases like “it’s not my job” or “No one told me…”

Incidents will invariably arise when each and every one of us hold ourselves accountable.  If something happens that was out of your control, you may not feel that you should be personally accountable for it, but you can make good choices for how you respond.  This is the moment where you can choose to be the victim of the situation or to embrace your inner hero.


The victim stories are probably very familiar to you.  I’m sure that you have a friend or co-worker who, on a daily basis, complains about how unfair the boss is, how terrible the customers are, or how unbearable their job is in general.  Yet day after day, they continue to go back to this job, seemingly enjoying the act of being miserable or victimized.

I bet you have also been in a café or bar and encountered conversations that consist of stories about how awful life is to each person.  As soon as one ends, another person will chime in with their sad tale, almost as if to say, “If you think that’s bad, wait until you hear this one…”

How the ‘Victim’ Role Can Appear

“I don’t know how to do that”  (and I’m unwilling to learn or get help)

• Some think that if you are not skilled in doing something, you can’t be accountable for it.  If this was true, few people would make the decision to file their taxes, which is not an excuse the government finds acceptable.

• When someone says that they don’t know how to do something, are they really saying “I’m not skilled enough to do it best, and if it’s not done best, why try?”  We can’t know how to do everything and we can’t be the best at everything. The most successful people surround themselves with experts for what they can’t do best.

• Diving in and trying to accomplish something for the first time should be an engaging and exciting thing.

• Your hero wasn’t born a hero, they had to learn how to be a hero one step at a time.

“That problem is too large, emotional or political”

• Statements like this one are often indicative of a person’s personal fear of trying to accomplish a task and failing to succeed.  There are countless examples of individuals facing an enormous or extremely complex task and being successful.  Being afraid to fail to a point where you do nothing will keep you within conflicting boundaries and will often ensure long-term failure.

• Your hero learned to fail and learned from the experience.

“I didn’t make the mess so I shouldn’t be the one to clean it up”

• Accountability is not about a clear boundary that surrounds your specific actions or limits you from taking action.  Many things can be the cause of a particular issue or obstacle.  Choosing to blame one or more of the potential causes instead of facing the challenge is a way of running from accountability.

• Your hero will clean up a mess simply because it is the right thing to do.

“That is not part of my job”

• Some people, when asked for help, will explain every facet of what their job does and does not entail.  Often times by the time they get finished explaining why they shouldn’t help, the job could have been completed.  What if there is no position that covers the specific task?  Who would do it?

• A victim would offer a logical excuse while a HERO would complete the task without thinking twice.

Embracing the ‘Hero’ Role

To embrace the hero aspect of a task or challenge, understand that accountability can be seen as how your integrity is applied to those around you.

When you make the decision to be accountable, it needs to be paired with the momentum to fulfill your goal or responsibility.  If you fail to be steadfast in this way, you are not being accountable.  Your hero represents the best aspects of you, your best intentions, and abilities.  Having integrity in what you do and embracing your trust and faith in every outcome is what strengthens the hero within you.

Accountability is knowing how to create positive resolutions.

For example, when you leave a job and ensure that the individual replacing you is prepared, you are adding your respect and accountability in that relationship. It is good practice to leave any position with a positive impression so that no doors of opportunity are closed to you in the future either through impressive job references or recommendations or because you may want to journey back to where you have been.

Take Away

Loving yourself is part of personal accountability.  If you love yourself and have faith in yourself and in your integrity, your inner hero will shine!