“Personal accountability is getting stuff done based on me. I am responsible for my performance and getting things done without looking or leaning or depending on other people. So if something goes wrong or right, it’s all mine.”

—Abigail Lechthaler, financial advisor

Not everybody is as fearless as Dave, who begged a White House bigwig for an internship, but highly accountable people routinely take the risks and the actions they believe are necessary to earn their own happy endings.

For one person, that might mean adding an extra hour to her work day so she can take every other Friday off. For another, it might mean making ...

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