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Taken at the photo booth of the recent She Speaks conference with fellow writers Vickie Henderson and Helena Davies.

It had gotten almost embarrassing.  Her charming Welsh accent thinly cloaked a demeanor that was no nonsense and direct.  I knew the next time I saw her she would ask the same question . . . again.   And if I didn’t see her there would most likely be an email in my inbox or a text message on my phone.  Every week.  Without fail.  

Helena Davies and I were both members of the same writers group and at the time I was spinning the idea of starting a blog around in my head.  Over lunch one day I had made the comment that before I committed to weekly publication of a blog I felt I needed to develop a strong habit of writing something blog worthy every week.  So I asked her to hold me accountable.  And she did.

Have you written anything this week?” became the question I had learned to dread.  I wanted to write.  I meant to write.  But without making it a priority, the week would slide by in a blur of activity and my computer screen would remain as blank as an uninhabited apartment wall.  

Have you written anything this week?” became the question I had learned to dread.

Finally, after several weeks of excuses and evasions, I decided I didn’t want to hear that question again without being able to answer it with “Yes!” so I started to write.  I had just needed someone to hold me accountable.

At a recent conference we attended, writers were sharing how and why they had written their books and blogs.  I pointed to Helena and laughingly said, “She’s the reason.”  Truthfully, writing is something I had wanted to do for years and my “why” was to enrich the lives of others through it but it took a friend holding me directly accountable to make it happen.

Accountability can be a very positive element in our lives.  The word stems from the Latin “accomptare” (to account).  It has ancient roots in record keeping activities related to governance and money lending.  My friend, Helena, was asking me to give an account not of how I spent my money, but rather of how I spent my time.  Was I investing it in the thing I said mattered to me?

At a recent conference we attended, writers were sharing how and why they had written their books and blogs.  I pointed to Helena and laughingly said, “She’s the reason.”

A good accountability partner is committed to helping you succeed.  Whether it involves exercise, diet, breaking a bad habit or establishing a good one, knowing you are answerable to someone else often gives you the nudge you need to achieve a set goal.

Excuses/  Evasions/ Justifications/  Rationalizations/  Apologies.  These are the bricks we use to build the wall to protect ourselves when we know we haven’t been true to our own goals.  Believe me I’ve used them all on my fitness trainer at the gym!  My trainer never gave me an inch of allowance because her goal was my ultimate success.

Asking someone to hold us accountable helps us accept responsibility for our actions and keeps us moving on the path we’ve set for ourselves.  It can also cause us to reach for a higher level of integrity when we know we will have to check in, weigh in or report in to another person.  

I believe the element of accountability was one of the reasons Jesus sent His disciples on assignments in pairs.  Mark 6:7  “Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two. . .”  Luke 10:1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two. . .”  From a sheer logistics standpoint, only half the amount of villages and towns would be reached by having his messengers travel in pairs but it was clearly the Lord’s preferred method.

Bible scholars speculate that one reason for this was the Jewish tradition of “two witnesses” (Deut. 19:15) whereby two witnesses were needed to convict someone of a crime.  In this culture where two opinions were more reliable than one, it made sense for Jesus to send them in twos where they might be more apt to be received as reliable witnesses of His kingdom.  I personally think He had other reasons in mind as well.

For those of us who are strong willed and independent it is sometimes difficult to allow someone else that access into our lives.

A partnership provides reinforcement, encouragement, extra insight and strength.  It also adds a dimension of accountability when the equation moves beyond one.  My accountability partner never scolded, nagged or reprimanded me.  She simply asked the question, “Have you written anything this week?”  

That repeated question was the impetus I needed to flesh out my good intentions.  For those of us who are strong willed and independent it is sometimes difficult to allow someone else that access into our lives.  We don’t want them “all up in our business”.  But sometimes it’s exactly what we need.  I read somewhere that “Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results.”  Thank you, Helena, for being my glue!