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Whose Business is it Anyway? A Look at Accountability in and out of the Workplace

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

A lot of people were shocked to find out about Facebooks’ recent data privacy breach, not to mention potential election tampering. I wasn’t. If the Social Network movie[1] was at all accurate, then it seems Zuckerberg does not mind doing things that benefit him and his company. This said I think it’s a good thing that we all know by now that most, if not all, apps and social media platforms make their money by using and selling our data. The difference to me, this time, is that Zuckerberg took accountability. Yes, it can be rare for an organization or corporation to do so but, despite the history of corporate scandal and blame, he did and it seems like other businesses are following suit. Think of the recent racial profiling incident at Starbucks.

It is because of these incidents and things happening in my and my clients’ lives that responsibility has been on my mind for some time now. I believe taking responsibility is one of the most important things to do when things are not going well in your career and life but I know it can be one of the hardest things to do as well.

Why is that?

I believe fault is to blame (yes, I caught that). Taking responsibility is admitting ‘fault’ and it can be tough to admit fault, to admit you are imperfect or ‘less than’ to yourself or others. You may be ashamed of hurting someone or it may be too much for the unhealthy part of your ego to handle. Those feelings can be too uncomfortable, especially if they feel “too close to home.”

Now it gets complicated because it is not just an individual or corporate issue, it can be a country, community and cultural one too (recall the chemical attacks in Syria). Many cultures and communities play the blame game and are avoidant. They don’t want to see their part in the mire, and ‘part’ is the key word here because often taking accountability can go both ways. Another complication is when an individual assumes responsibility when it is a systemic, discriminatory issue. This is something one of my clients has dealt with in various workplaces.

So how does this all apply to you? Obviously, it is a problem if you never take accountability but it is also a problem if you take on too much and internalize things that have nothing to do with you. Both extremes can be detrimental. A helpful thing you can ask yourself when caught up in these sorts of things is, what’s my business in this? What’s not my business? Drawing a line in the middle of a paper or digital page to make two columns and writing it out in a distraction-free space is best. See what comes up and how honest you can get with yourself. You may be surprised. I recently used this exercise with a client and they told me it was really useful for them to get perspective with the dynamic at work.

So what is your business and what is not? If this proves too difficult, ask a trusted, level-headed friend or partner who is not afraid to tell you something you may not want to hear. Check for blind spots in both your and your loved one’s assessment. When we stop blaming or internalizing too much, we can leverage our life with a clear direction and identity. I know because I have seen it in my life. It’s far from perfect, but who’s perfect anyway?


[1]A 2010 biographical film based on the founding of Facebook

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