Thoughts + Articles


Are you accountable for your actions?

When you make a promise do you keep it?

What does accountability mean? 

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 says, “Accountability is the state of being liable to answer for one’s conduct; to receive reward or punishment for actions.” Accountability means you can be counted on. You are dependable, honest, trustworthy, and you won’t let your company, your family, your friends, your teachers, or your mentors down. You can be relied on!

Webster’s Dictionary says Accountability is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions.

Are you passionate about being accountable? 

When you are accountable you stick to the agreement or promise and keep it! 

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk at the White House that said, “The buck stops here.” that served as a reminder to himself and others that as a leader, you must accept responsibility for your actions.

In his farewell address to the American people, President Truman said, “The President-whoever he is- has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

President Truman was saying a leader, a President, must take responsibility for his or her actions and be accountable for them. A leader does not pass the blame on to someone else.

Do you want your employees to work as a team and be responsible and accountable for their areas of expertise? Of course, you do!

Geri Stevens had a passion for jury duty. She was the head of jury selections in the judiciary department for the city of San Diego. Every Monday she would address a new group of potential jurors, reminding them of the special place they had in our justice system and would review their responsibilities.

The majority of people who receive a jury summons immediately begin to think of what they can do to get out of it. It is not a happy place to be!

Geri finally convinced John Maxwell to attend one of her jury orientation sessions, and he was beyond surprised by the experience.

Maxwell recalls Geri standing before her unreceptive audience with an air of excitement and said, “This will be one of the most wonderful weeks of your lives.”

He said, “That got everybody’s attention.”

She proceeded to express her passion “about the greatness of America and the right of each citizen to have a fair trial. She explained to the jurors how their decisions would make a difference and that they were examples of why America is a nation coveted and admired by others. At the close of her 45-minute inspiring talk, the potential jurors gave her a standing ovation!”

Geri Stevens’ passion for America transferred to the prospective jurors. They were transformed from an uninterested group of citizens, serving their civic duty to an inspired group of Californians who looked “forward to being selected to serve on a jury.”

Jerry Steven’s was asking her prospective jurors if they could be counted on? 

How often do you make a promise? Do you keep your promises?

Professor William Lincer, my teacher and mentor at the Juilliard School, asked me to promise, before he died on July 31, 1997 that I would contact two of the greatest thinkers on the brain in the 20th Century and have a dialogue with them. The two men were Dr. Gerald Edelman and Dr. Oliver Sacks, medical doctors, researchers, scientists, and lifelong musicians.

Dr. Oliver Sacks was a physician specializing in neurology. He was an author of many books including “Awakenings”, “Musicophilia” and Professor of Neurology at NYU School of Medicine. 

Professor Lincer during my studies with him at the Juilliard School introduced me to many of Dr. Sacks’ books. I enjoyed reading and studying them. I sent a letter to Dr. Sacks after Professor Lincer had passed away and included an article on my research for my new book, “The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music”. I asked Dr. Sacks several important questions about students coping with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, brain cancers, Parkinson’s, and neurological diseases. 

On December 31, 1997, Dr. Sacks wrote to me saying he was “just now making a New Year’s resolution to try and answer all delinquent mail by midnight!”

He said, “You bring up far too many deep questions and issues for me to have ready answers to! I take the liberty of enclosing a paper from a conference we had at the inauguration of the Institute for Music & Neurological Function at Beth Abraham Hospital in 1994. I have been very much for music and music therapy, as you know, ever since I first encountered my Awakening patients in 1966”.

The article Dr. Sacks sent me was about an elderly patient who had broken her hip. She had had an operation to repair her hip and had physical therapy and yet she was unable to walk. The MRI said the hip had not been repaired. 

Dr. Sacks asked the patient If she had moved her hip recently. She responded that she had kept time to the music at a Christmas concert by moving her leg in time to a dance piece. Dr. Sacks had a music therapist play dance music for the patient to move to in dance motions to the rhythm of the music. After a month she was able to walk once more. 

Dr. Sacks began studying the piano as a small child and has continued playing throughout his life. He says “music has been the profoundest non-chemical medication for our patients. What we see, fundamentally, is the power of music to organize-and do this efficiently as well as joyfully, when abstract or schematic forms of organization fail.”

In other words, music helps keep the neurons in your brain firing and working together. Playing an instrument engages both sides of the brain. The brain is a “use it or lose it” part of your body. 

Dr. Sacks had another patient suffering from severe Alzheimer’s. The patient responded to ballroom music by taking his wife in his arms and looking into her eyes and dancing with her.

One of his patients had a stroke and could no longer walk or talk. Dr. Sacks brought in an accordionist who played a familiar song, and the patient started to sing the song with him. Music has the power to stimulate memory. “Memory,” says Dr. Sacks, “is the key to a sense of self. Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring its memory.” 

Dr. Oliver Sacks’ Legacy: 

Dr. Oliver Sacks leaves a legacy of case studies of his patients observing their uniqueness. He cared so much to help others and teach them that their affliction made them unique. Dr. Sacks said, “I am a storyteller, for better and for worse. I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition, going with our powers of language, consciousness of self, and autobiographical memory.” 

Dr. Oliver Sacks also said, “In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life. If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story–his real, inmost story?’–for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us–through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives–we are each of us unique.” ― Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

Dr. Gerald Edelman was a physician, 1972 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology /medicine for immunology, neuroscientist for his theory of the brain- “Neural Darwinism”, professor, researcher, author, and musician. His interest was in “how the brain works”. Dr. Edelman began playing the violin as a young boy and thought about being a concert violinist. Throughout his life Dr. Edelman has continued to play his violin. 

Professor Lincer during my studies with him at the Juilliard School introduced me to Dr. Edelman’s book “Brilliant Air, Brilliant Fire: On The Matter Of The Mind” and his articles. I was fascinated as I read and studied them. Professor Lincer said, “Dr. Gerald Edelman is the most brilliant mind of this century.”

I sent a letter to Dr. Edelman after Professor Lincer passed away about the research Professor Lincer and I had done on how music stimulates the brain to promote scholastic excellence. Included was an article Professor Lincer and I had worked on together and my research on a study done on a Virginia public middle school of economically deprived students taking string and band classes and monitoring their grades throughout the school year. 

My conversations with these brilliant men were part of the inspiration for my best selling book, “The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music”. 

I asked Dr. Edelman several important questions about students coping with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, brain cancers, Parkinson’s, and neurological diseases. 

On September 15, 1997, Dr. Edelman wrote back “I was sad that Professor Lincer died. He was a superb musician and broad ranging spirit.” He went on to say, “Your enterprise using musical training to enhance the scholastic performance of deprived children is a noble one. Unfortunately, there are at present no firm grounds for answering your medically directed questions. Before looking at patients with various disorders, a sound database on normal subjects will have to be collected. …..A few of my colleagues at Neurosciences Institute are beginning to look into these problems but I’m afraid it will be some time before satisfactory answers are forthcoming.”                 

Dr. Edelman at the end of his letter said, “You have tapped into some very important issues and your questions are well placed. In any event, your observational data should make a real contribution to the fields of music and education in general.”  

Dr. Gerald Edelman’s Theory of “Neural Darwinism” as a musical metaphor:

Dr. Gerald Edelman said: “Think: if you had a hundred thousand wires randomly connecting four string quartet players and that, even though they weren’t speaking words, signals were going back and forth in all kinds of hidden ways [as you usually get them by the subtle nonverbal interactions between the players] that make the whole set of sounds a unified ensemble. That’s how the maps of the brain work by reentry. The players are connected. Each player, interpreting the music individually, constantly modulates and is modulated by the others. There is no final or “master” interpretation; the music is collectively created, and every performance is unique.”

I treasure both Dr. Edelman’s letter and Dr. Sacks’ letter and they are in frames above my desk as an on going inspiration to me to keep asking questions and try to help others every day.

What 3 promises will you make to yourself?

      1) Beginning today I will make a promise to stretch my abilities by reading a book, listening to an audio or video by an expert, or taking a course. Write down the date you make the promise (month, date, & year), and the date the promise will be completed. (Month, date, & year)

        2) By the end of the month I promise to_________. By the end of 6 months I promise to ________. Write down the date you make the promise (month, date, & year), and the date the promise will be completed. (Month, date, & year) 

        3)   Once a week I promise to help someone else reach his or her promise/goal.  

Place this sheet in front of your computer / workstation so you can remember to work on it each day.  

During the Civil War, Jeb Stuart signed “his reports to General Robert E. Lee “Yours to count on” (YTCO). He meant it and so should you.

 Remember it’s never too late to be accountable – make a promise and keep it!


Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker or virtual speaker contact Madeline at:

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 8th, 2024 at 9:51 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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