The Gift of Accountability – Be Gentle When Opening

Tom GibbonsLearning, Social Construction, Uncertainty1 Comment

Of all the gifts we could get at Christmas perhaps the best would be a whole new bunch of accountability, along with a big dose of self management to go along with it.

At least that is what I likely would have said in previous years.  Today I’m not so sure.  Even earlier this year I posted Blame and Accountability which focused on taking accountability and trying to halt the dynamic of blame laying.  While I still think this is important I now wonder if perhaps the best gift anyone could get at Christmas is the capacity to grapple with and accept our own humanness.

Our culture of blame and our insistence on certainty leaves us one definition for being human – perfection in all we do.  And what is meant by perfection is socially constructed and wholly unattainable.  I now think that the act of asking someone to be accountable in this environment can actually amplify the expectation of blame laying to occur and thus the consequences of guilt and shame, our own personal prisons.

So perhaps a gift of a greater capacity to grapple with and accept our own humanness is a better place to start.  Perhaps this capacity is even the ‘cause’ of taking accountability; the actual precursor to that choice.

And what is our humanness:

  • The capacity to try again and again
  • The capacity to have emotions
  • The capacity to interact
  • The capacity to reason and question
  • The capacity for compassion
  • The capacity to learn

Our culture of blame brutally constrains each of these and if we could allow ourselves to do a little more of each of the above, the blame isn’t so bad and the guilt and shame no longer imprison us.  What each of these mean in our own personal lives is something to be grappled with; an answer, if ever found is only temporary but that grappling is better than the blind avoidance of guilt and shame, most effectively done by shunning accountability.

The post A Place of Wondrous Certainty resonates more clearly now and thus the need to be gentle with ourselves when opening the gift of accountability.  To find the capacity we had as children to believe we were just fine in our humanness, now, as adults requires us to be gentle with ourselves.  Humanness is full of contrast, paradox, messiness and  beauty.  It’s also what keeps us moving forward.

I hope you find the gift of accountability this Christmas.  But open the gift of gentleness first…

One Comment on “The Gift of Accountability – Be Gentle When Opening”

  1. Hi Tom,
    Perhaps we should put more emphasis on asking people to be accountable for being present in the moment, in the interaction, noticing new signals coming in to the system, and speaking up about these to others. Perhaps we need to ask people to be accountable for telling the truth about themselves and each other…..rather than the fantasy of holding people accountable for specific long term targets and goals. Elliot Jaques always said, managers can’t hold your employees accountable for results, but only accountable for their best efforts in going after those results.
    Merry Christmas,
    PS…see my last article on my web site. You will see you, Stacey and all have had their impact on my thinking. 🙂

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