Accountability is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Parents want their children to be accountable, coaches their players, and bosses their employees. In our world, it typically means doing what you say you’ll do and making sure to do your part to the best of your ability.

When we conducted our research, accountability was a term we identified as absolutely essential to happiness in life. We determined, however, that it has a much broader and more powerful meaning than the one above.

Accountability is the complete acceptance in thoughts and action that one is fully in control of their own happiness and success in life. It states that none of us is a product of the past, and that our futures are not predetermined because our lives are what we want them to be from this moment onward.

Perhaps the best way to support this definition is to share some of the wisdom we took from great masters throughout history.

Here are 20 accountability quotes that both energize and inspire our work:

1. “Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”  Lao Tzu – 6th Century BC

2. “To move the world, we must first move ourselves.”  Socrates (5th Century BC)

3.  “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  Epictetus (55 to 135)

4.  “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”  Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180)

5.  “You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.”  Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)

6.  “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”  William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

7.  “Each player must accept the cards life deals him: but once they are in hand, he alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.”  Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

8.  “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

9.  “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

10. “It is what it is, but it will become what you make it.”  Abraham Lincoln (1809 to 1865)

11.  “The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.”  William James (1842 – 1910)

12.  “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”  William Ernest Henley (1849 – 1903)

13.  “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for, but rather something to be achieved.”  William Jennings Bryan (1860 – 1925)

14.  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  Henry Ford (1863 – 1947)

15.  “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.”  Khalil Gibran (1883 – 1931)

16.  “Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.”  Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)

17. “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankl (1905 – 1997)

18. “As you think, so shall you become.” Bruce Lee (1940 – 1973)

19. “Experience is not what happens to a man, it is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)

20. “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson (1944 – Present Day)

We hope you enjoy this collection of words and thoughts on being accountable from some of history’s greatest thinkers. What you take from them is, of course, entirely up to you.