When we ask someone to be our accountability partner we are basically saying “I find it useful to have other people make me feel bad when I don’t do something that I am supposed to do. I think that this goal that I want to accomplish is so important that I want you to make me feel bad when I get off track in doing the physical activities that indicate that I am making progress towards the goal. When you make me feel bad, I will get back on track and then I will be able to achieve my goal”.
This concept of accountability is based on the premise that it is important for other people to like us – we feel “worthy” of getting our goal because we are doing the actions that we have decided must get us there.
But what about alignment? And what about giving your freedom away to someone else? And what about reinforcing the belief that what others think is more important than what I think?
On the other hand, if you had an accountability partner who checked in on your alignment and called you up the emotional scale before asking you to act – that sort of accountability would be perfect. That is the sort of accountability good leaders use, it’s how people mentor and coach, its how good teacher teach – all the people in these roles address how their charges are thinking, they focus on getting the right attitude first – and isn’t that everything.
Being accountable can be a good thing because it creates the discipline to focus and get aligned. Some people get aligned because contrast forces them to. For example, children often have to find a way to make peace with the work that their parents force them to do, like cleaning their rooms. Accountability is an antidote for procrastination because it forces a decision. A decision is better than wobbling. Once you decide then you can line up and take action.
In a healthy relationship, spouses and partners are excellent accountability partners for each other. They help each other go up the emotional scale, they help each other make decisions, line up the energy and take action.
So you see, it’s all about the structure of accountability. If you are accountable to someone who inspires you to go up the emotional scale then they draw out the best in you – and that’s a very good thing. If you are accountable to someone who makes you feel bad, then you have to work twice as hard to go up the emotional scale and you might as well give up.
In the end, its all about the emotional scale.
Here is a summary:
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