Growing up in a heavily influenced Christian atmosphere the word accountability was used frequently and most commonly within the context of the men in its culture. It seemed to be this sort of scapegoat crutch to pawn major life issues onto. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think having people involved in my life and giving support through tough times is needed; however, I hope to bring some definition to this topic through what I have observed. In the following, I will explore what personal accountability should look like in my opinion and experience.
Let’s just jump right in! When someone is holding me accountable for my desired goal, if the weight of the task or issue at hands success, more heavily relies on the support rather than me, that is not accountability, it’s avoiding self-ownership. For example, let’s say I want to quit watching porn and I ask my friend to hold me accountable by having him constantly call me, check my browser history, and look at my phone, etc... In doing this, I have decided that I am powerless and that my only hope is my friend to take responsibility for my poor actions and discipline me by using the power of guilt, this is not accountability.
It looks more like me telling my friend I want to quit porn and that I was wondering if he could ask me once a week if I have been moving towards my desired goal. If I fail would he please push the proverbial button that puts into action the self-discipline we had previously agreed upon, like $1000 going to a political party I despise, or I have to give him my internet router for a month. This type of accountability relationship is geared more towards me taking the initiative to create a responsive impetuous machine that creates an immediate consequence. This helps me stay motivated towards the desired goal I have set in place. I need to be the proactive one. I am the one who agreed to the goal and the consequences if I fail to comply. I am the one who is responsible for my failure, or at least that is the hope.
In my perspective healthy accountability that works is supported by the mentality of the following. The person who has an issue which needs conquering creates a working invisible machine that's triggered by the incongruent decisions decided upon by all parties involved. For example, in a literal sense, it would be like setting it up that if I shut the door behind myself, it would automatically lock without me doing anything, and I couldn’t get back in the house without going through the appropriate process. So, the early struggle used; if I was to watch porn which I wanted to overcome at the end of the week when my buddy checks in with me, and he asks me if I had watched porn. With the response being yes then the agreed consequence would instantly be put into motion. Self-ownership and honesty are critical in the process for self-development I have found personally.
I think what I am trying to articulate is accountability shouldn't be on someone else’s shoulders to enforce when it comes to life skills; it is a proactive decision of choosing to take responsibility for your life. A system that helps quantify the value of the choices one is making I feel is the best type of accountability. Webster’s defines it like this “The quality or state of being accountable; especially; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”.
The journey of masculinity I have been on has helped me realize how important this small subject is. It is an incredibly great confidence builder I've found when I stopped hoping other people could fix me, and I took ownership of issues in my life that I wanted to conquer or tame. By no means is my life where it should be or my disciplines as strong as desired, but I am on a journey where giving up is not an option.
What areas of your life have you been waiting for other people to help you? Is there something you could do this week to take steps forward? I know I have a few myself. What do you think accountability is?