Why Accountability Makes Us Uncomfortable

Nothing strikes terror in most people’s eyes than the word, “accountability.” My hunch is that we when we hear it, we think that all of our work habits, schedule, thoughts, assumptions, etc. are going to be exposed, as if we’ll have to walk around in our skivvies, baring our physical and emotional flaws. That exposure leads us to think everyone will know I’m a fraud, or I can’t really cut it, or [insert your go-to insecurity here].

Accountability is a much more complex thing than this 14-letter word lets on. It’s paradoxical: a huge responsibility and extremely freeing at the same time. The reason it strikes fear into grown ups is because there are layers of strong, high-order values baked into it:

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Vulnerability

I’d like to suggest that accountability — that is the trinity of integrity, honesty, and vulnerability — is a powerful force that can create deep, meaningful relationships between us, at work and at home. Accountability isn’t about being perfect. Instead it’s about being human. Accountability is about taking responsibility and asking for help. It’s about being realistic and hopeful.

We crave it from others because we want it for ourselves. We might think that accountability means tracking all of our time, but in reality, it is about being focused on doing what we said we’d do (integrity); admitting we don’t have it all together (honesty); and owning up to not having all of the answers (vulnerability).

Part of the reason the word, “accountability,” strikes fear into our hearts is because the deepest part of our soul is yearning to matter, to be seen for doing awesome things, and actually creating results that matter.

You deserve to be accountable to your workplace, significant other, and co-workers. Don’t dive deep into accountability systems (i.e. project management software, timetracking, etc.). Instead first figure out who you’ll be accountable to and for what results. Then decide what fears you’ll face in the process and what technology might support it.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, inappropriately critical, or spammy.

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