This is a guest post by Penelope Przekop

A major reason why paychecks get larger as the scope of responsibility widens is accountability. Many complain about the high salaries of corporate executives. I won’t comment on compensation packages, but I will say that sitting at the top of a company such as Pfizer, Microsoft, or General Electric carries an incredible intellectual and emotional load. I admire anyone who can bear that burden daily and not crumble.

Could you do it? Would you choose to accept the potential risk that comes with that level of accountability, and if so, what compensation would you expect in return?

There’s an inherent association between accountability, risk, and reward. Avoiding personal accountability is a surefire way to avoid risk because, after all, it’s not your fault. However, it also pushes the rewards you long for out of reach. A perfect example of this is your career. Consider the following reasons many people attribute to why they don’t have a career that’s 5-star worthy by their personal standards. I call it the “I would have my dream career by now, if only” list:

I would have my dream career by now, if only —

  • The boss I’ve had for the last five years wasn’t so closeminded, overbearing, lazy, etc.
  • There hadn’t been a housing crash in 2008.
  • I didn’t have to work with backstabbers, irresponsible people, or coworkers who constantly distract me.
  • I didn’t live in such an economically depressed area.
  • I’d gone to a better high school, technical school, or college.
  • I had another degree, or someone had warned me that the one I was already pursuing wouldn’t be useful in today’s job market.
  • I didn’t have the disadvantage of —
    • being a woman, whose voice doesn’t carry. No one listens to me or takes me seriously.
    • being a man in a world in which men are being pushed to the side.
    • being a white male in a world in which nobody respects me anymore!
    • being a person of color in a white-dominated business world.
    • being so young no one takes me seriously.
    • being too old to be considered for my ideas.
    • having a disability that makes people think I’m somehow incapable of great things.
    • growing up in a wealthy family that made me unprepared for the real world, and makes people assume certain things about me. I know what I want to achieve but I just can’t catch a break.
    • growing up in a poor family that let me unprepared for the real world, and makes people assume certain things about me. I think I know who I want to be, but I don’t know how to be that person, and I can’t catch a break.

The statements above are filled with both objective and subjective information. You cannot change objective facts — such as having a dark or light complexion, a particular age, a disability, a particular background, or education. But what you can change is the subjective information that belongs to you. For example, the following are self-defeating personal beliefs that you can, indeed, change. You may not want to, and it may not be easy, but you can change them:

· People make inaccurate assumptions about me.

· People assume wealthy kids are spoiled.

· People assume growing up poor means I’m not worth their time.

· People assume a disability means you can’t work as hard.

· People think I’m too young to succeed.

· People think I’m too old to matter.

· If I don’t “look the part,” I won’t get the part.

It is impossible to scale that mountain of disadvantages — and the truth is, you don’t need to. It’s pointless to believe that your disadvantages have been assigned by others, as well. Why? Here are 8 specific reasons:

1. You can’t possibly know what other people truly think or why they think what they think.

2. You can only be 100% sure of objective data and information (it is what it is) and what you think, feel, believe (your subjective information).

3. You are making assumptions about what they think. Why are you doing the same thing you wish they wouldn’t do?

4. It is humanly impossible to make other people think or do what you would like them to think or do.

5. What others think is their subjective information, and only they can change it.

6. You alone own your thought process, and that’s where your power lies. Just as you can’t change or manipulate theirs, no one can change yours unless you agree to let them.

7. You may admire, or even love, many of the people who influenced your thoughts or beliefs about what other people think. Maybe it was your parents; the people in your childhood neighborhood or cultural region; your favorite actor or 24-hour news personality; your friends, a brilliant college professor, or favorite author. Regardless, none of those people are accountable to manufacturer the life or career that you envision.

8. You are 100% responsible, just like the CEO of Apple. Accept the role and make your own commitment to quality. Define what a quality life and career mean to you, and view those as products that you will manufacture, working within your system. (Your system is essentially comprised of the objective data and information available to you, and your subjective information. Those are the two types of data and information you can 100% count on.)

If you landed the Apple CEO job and the perks that came with it, would you call your mom, friend, or professor expecting them to tell you what they think you should do to achieve the company’s goals? Would you later blame them when the information and advice they provided ultimately puts you out of a job? If you did, the blame would be misplaced. It was never their job, or their responsibility. They are not accountable. You gave away your power when you chose not to accept accountability.


About the Guest Post Author:

Penelope Przekop is a corporate quality management expert, entrepreneur, and writer. Throughout her 30+-year career, she has worked with numerous Fortune 100 pharma companies, including Pfizer, Merck, Lilly, and Glaxo Smith Kline, and held leadership positions at Novartis, Covance, Wyeth, and Johnson & Johnson. She is the founder and CEO of PDC Pharma Strategy and serves as the Chief Compliance Officer for Engrail Therapeutics. She is the author of Six Sigma for Business Excellence (McGraw-Hill) and four novels: Please Love Me, Aberrations, Centerpieces, and Dust. Przekop earned a BS in Biology from Louisiana State University and an MS in Quality Systems Engineering from Kennesaw State University. She is a graduate of the Smith College Program for Women’s Leadership and the Rutgers University Senior Leadership Program for Professional Women. In 2018, Przekop and her older daughter founded Bra in a Box, which has been featured in Real Simple and New York Magazine. She lives in the Greater Philadelphia Area with her husband of 30 years. Her new book is Five Star Career: Define and Build Yours Using the Science of Quality Management. Learn more at and