The Magic Of Accountability

Accountability is magic. Pure magic. Perhaps the structure, the tool, the software, the paper, the process…plays into it some, but for me, accountability is where the rubber squeals on the road.

Last week, my friend Anna told me about her War Board (is it okay to spill the beans about this Anna?) Pfft. *I* wanted one of those. So I made one. And MAN did that motivate me! It motivated me because it’s holding me accountable, and it’s motivating me because I told Anna about it. I haven’t managed to cross anything off on it, but it’s in my face reminding me of everything I need to do. Her particular version of this is a whiteboard that she carries around with her. Mine’s a bit large for that, but seeing I spend 75% of my time in the same room, a stationary white board is working just fine for me.

Last week, my friend David took the time to go through my website, and asked me about what my company does. He’s going to help me revamp my content. I have a full mind map of new content, a design partially done, and the database structure created. It’s been like that for well over a year. But now David looking has created a strong desire in me to show up. I already started going through the mind map, taking what he suggested and melding them together into an outline. My goal is to have the website up in 2-3 weeks tops. A project that’s been sitting in the swamp for all this time, with a little bit of accountability, is going to be done before the sun sets on August.

A few weeks ago, another friend of mine, Karen, challenged her friends to move just a little bit every day. (Wasn’t it something like 15 minutes, Karen?) I haven’t been perfect about it, but until her challenge, I hadn’t burned off 2500 calories in a week since I ran the Marathon in February. I’ve significantly increased my level of exercise just so I can get on her Facebook status and tell her I moved. This past weekend, I was so motivated to be able to tell her I moved, I even got on my treadmill. (I have a treadmill desk, by the way, to keep the boredom of this pursuit to a minimum.)

I’ve been writing a significant amount again since the end of 2010. I had most of it on a private website. I put it on this website recently, transferring it over in pieces as I have time. And when I write new pieces, I’ve been posting them on Facebook. Guess what’s happening!? I’m writing even MORE than I was before. I’m writing something nearly every day now. I know people are watching, including my friends Karen, Rick, and Pat. I always have something to say, and now that I know someone cares about it, I’m writing it down and putting it out here, making sure it gets out of me.

I lost 50 pounds on a website called SparkPeople because of the accountability other members provided by caring. I wrote over 370 blog posts and made over 300 friends. Could I have done it without the built in accountability of a network whose members are ALWAYS ready to talk about weight loss? Perhaps.

Both of my exchange students cited me living “Do one thing every day that scares you” as a major inspiration. That still makes me show up every day and do one thing that scares me. I don’t want to let them down.

Another friend of mine, Chris, who inspires me more than he knows, told me he’s been keeping up with me and watching what I’ve been going through. He openly shared his insight and wisdom, and was able to do that because he’d been witnessing. In hindsight, he’s someone I wish I HAD been more accountable to. I suspect I wouldn’t be in some of the situations I’m in now, if I had that accountability in place.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that I function much better when there are people in my life to witness me and what I’m doing. She’s spot on. At its core, that’s what accountability is – witnessing what another accomplishes. It’s not about bossing them, managing them, training them, or judging them. It’s simply someone who cares.

I’ve made big changes in my life, and have continued to work on issues, pushing, determined, forward. It’s been a difficult road. Of course, I’m motivated because I want these changes and I’m determined to create this new beautiful life for myself. Doing this requires tools, and I think the tool of Accountability is absolutely the most magic one available to me.

I remember a line from a movie with Richard Gere and I don’t remember who else….about how marriage at its core is having someone to witness your life. I’m moving into a new chapter of my life where I won’t have that marriage to hold me accountable. I understand clearly now how someone would flounder in a new role when their teammate and they have gone on different paths. I thoroughly admire people who are single, and are armed and acting on their plan without an obvious partner.

What I’ve started to discover is that almost universally, the people who are moving forward successfully have accountability firmly in place. Thanx to a myriad of friends, and an examination of how I accomplished things successfully in my past, that group now includes me. 🙂

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7 Responses to The Magic Of Accountability

  1. Rick says:

    It is awesome (kind of over-used word) that you are writing this down. Too many people don’t see the thought, effort, and fear that doing something in sight of someone takes. Fear is a motivator. Desire is a motivator. But doing something for others in plain sight is both of those, and more. Congrats for showing some of us the way forward too.

  2. Karen Schertz says:

    I love this! Thanks so much for including me! I totally agree that accountability is like magic. I don’t think I WOULD have built the fitness habits I did without accountability from SparkPeople, and, therefore, probably never WOULD have reached my weight loss goal. And the accountability from the FB fitness challenge, and my other FB posts have been priceless for helping me keep it off. As for the rest of my life, you’ve seen my posts often enough to know I post my daily goals, too, no matter how trivial, out there for everybody to see (whether they care or not). Because it all comes down to this: If I say/post I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. I’m a woman of my word.

  3. Pat Sykora says:

    I think this doesn’t qualify as a “comment”, but indulge me anyway!

    No doubt having friends who are willing to genuinely “witness” (I like the deeper meaning: you have to really know someone, not just see them), who really care about our growth, who recognize and are honest enough to call out and hold us accountable for the things we either fail to see or are afraid to see in ourselves is an important part of the honing of our lives! I’m not sure any of us can go it alone, nor am I thinking that we can do it without a number of people who are willing to go it with us.

    That said, I think helping another person be accountable can only be done by those who hold themselves as such. These are the friends we need and should seek. I really “like” the David Whyte quote you posted this morning: …”anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” and spent a good deal of time pondering its truth. In a world where “friend” has become a numbers game referring oftentimes to those who just have one degree of separation from us, and we assess our worth on how many clicks we can get and sycophantic comments we can elicit, the type of accountability brought to us through genuine love and friendship is endangered. We need to hold even closer to the idea that genuine friendships and love are rare. The are not just feel good sports where people get the trophy for having merely suited up and joined our team. A friend is not just someone who “likes” you. True friends owe us the respectful honesty and sometimes tough love that challenges us to be who we are in more authentic ways. Conversely, they must seek the same from us. This is not “judging”- it is holding each other accountable for the discernment of what is real and true in the other. This might be what it is that brings about genuine greatness in people.

    Maybe there’s the rub. Those in the “self actualization” businesses will say that, sadly, few people seek real heart and mind change and then even fewer have the courage to make it happen. Change is a great buzzword, and some people think that any addition or subtraction based on the latest self-help book or overpaid speaker is a step towards greater personal authenticity. Sometimes we just end up replacing one false god with another. Friends who know us, who genuinely stand as witness to our lives, the good and the bad, believe in us in spite of our incompleteness, trust our desire for real change and, probably most importantly, call us on our bull are essential! These are the only people I want to be accountable to and, from what you’ve written, I think you would agree.

    Is it “magic”? Well, I’m a bit of a skeptic on that count. Magic implies that there’s something deceptive going on. I prefer to see it as grace. Grace in the sense of our ability to discern that we are simply not the center of the universe and that there is so much more than what we know that we not only can but should aspire to. Call it whatever you want. Everyone has access, but so few avail themselves of it. I’m just in awe of those who are willing to stare themselves down, acknowledge who they are for better or worse, accept the giftedness others see in them and then courageously seek to be who they can be rather than follow the easy ways of mediocrity inspired by societal acceptance. Willing to risk failing at times, courageously reassessing and starting again, they are inspiring people to be in the company of.

    Finally, no one person should ever have to bear the burden of being all things to another person. I think about this a lot, and find myself grateful that I know, love and admire a number of people who I feel help me be more “me”! Sometimes they push me beyond my comfort zone, but because I value them for their lived wisdom, faith in and love for me, I do my best to find what it is that they see (witness) , face it and embrace it if it is authentic to who I can be (accountability). I must remember to thank them more often.

  4. Pat Sykora says:

    Just as a clarification, I really like what you wrote CJ! Just found myself going in a different direction based on my experience. Hope nobody sees these as “opposed”! Thank you for inspiring me to do a piece of writing today!
    Peace,
    Pat

  5. Rick says:

    I’m going to find some way to use this quote “Accountability is magic. Pure magic. Perhaps the structure, the tool, the software, the paper, the process…plays into it some, but for me, accountability is where the rubber squeals on the road.”
    With proper attribution, of course. Thanks again CJ for this post.
    You keep making me think, what’s with that?

    • cjromb says:

      We ALL make each other thing, Rick. 🙂 Thanx for reading and caring about what I had to say. 🙂

  6. Anna Cummins says:

    Thank you CJ!

    Have I mentioned how much I appreciate your friendship? I do.

    You have inspired me to take notice of the little things, in my everyday life that I usually tend to blow over because of my eternal internal race to an imaginary finish line. Bottom line….I am a workaholic and not proud of it. Pfft!

    For the record, my “War Board” was created with me in mind by Jeff! He knew me enough to know that I am most productive when working off a prioritized list. If only I could remember where I left the list. 😉 So, he purchased a giant board and named it “War Board”. I took to it immediately! If I have my priorities laid out before me on something labeled “War Board” (the power of words in action), I tackle each and every task and close each and every sale without completely eliminating time for my family and time for myself.

    XO Anna Banana

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