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  • Writer's picturebryan hendley

The Importance of Radical Accountability

In doing some research for this article, I learned that most people, at least most of those writing, posting, or reporting online, love accountability.

For other people.

Accountability advocates abound, and they are very serious, and emphatic about the need for more accountability.

For other people.

The President needs to be held accountable (either the last one, the current one, or the next one, depending on your political persuasion). Teachers should be held accountable for their students’ test results. Or, if you are a teacher, parents should be held accountable for their students’ behavior and education.Social media giants should be held accountable for poisoning our children. The FBI should be held accountable for countless things.

Listen, I’m not taking a stance on any of these sides or saying that none of these groups should or should not be held accountable. Call me a coward if you’d like, there is a button somewhere on the page to leave a comment.This is simply not that article and I’m simply not that writer.

My writing encourages (or at least attempts to) in ways that we can lead stronger, my resilient, more joyful, more purposeful lives. And while I may be guilty of standing up in my own home or in my own head from time to time complaining about the powers that be and what they should and shouldn’t do, that’s not what I’ll use my very small platform for here.

Again, calling for accountability from the government, from those teaching our children, from those raising children, from those that are in place to protect us and keep us safe, and from those who are supposed to uphold the laws and help maintain a sense of justice, is a good thing.

Those groups need to be held accountable for doing their jobs well, fairly, and fully.

I have two primary concerns when thinking about my own personal decision to clamor for accountability for outside groups.

First, when doing so, I am often calling for a group to be accountable that I have little to no real control over. This is not me being a defeatist, just a realist. Some people may view that as being negative or not taking on enough social responsibility or whatever else may upset other people. Simply put, I don’t feel this is where my energy is best spent. Maybe it’s worth considering if this is where your energy is best spent.

Secondly, it is more important for me to figure out where and how I need to take accountability, and I wonder if others are often exerting their energy ̶c̶o̶m̶p̶l̶a̶i̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ holding other people accountable, rather than figuring out where they could be more accountable in their own lives. We deflect in all areas of our lives, perhaps we are doing the same here.

It’s certainly easier to find fault in big government, El Presidente, or the organization of our choice, rather than figuring out ways that we can do better.

What I’m advocating for myself here, is radical accountability. My coach introduced me to the idea of 100% accountability, but my analytical mind decided that’s too much, and too easy to argue against, so I’m going with radical accountability.

And it’s radical accountability for the things that happen in our lives, or the actions/decisions we make as we move throughout our lives.

This won’t be popular, but that’s okay, because according to the metrics, neither is my writing.

One reason it’s unpopular is it’s easy to argue against, and I won’t argue back. There are awful things that happen in people’s lives. Things that they had no control over. Things that have and will continue to impact their lives.

We can blame the Man, or God, or our parents, or the left or the right, and anyone and everyone in between. And it’s possible that some or all of them have played a role in where you are or what has happened to you.

We can then implore them to change, or rage against the inequities that exist because of their decisions. We can blame them for our ills and the ills of society, and cry out (perhaps rightfully so) that if only they would see it our way, then everything would be better.

One challenge is that most of those that we are railing against are not listening, and the other challenge is that they are are likely blaming us in the same way that we are blaming them, depending on where we are both standing. So we are all just standing around blaming. I don’t think this takes much proof, just open the news, any news.

The alternative then is for us to be accountable, radically so, for what we think, what we choose, what we say, and what we do. And then for us to be accountable again for what happens next. And then for us to be accountable again for what we think, choose, say or do after that.

And radically accountable because it’s too easy for the “yeah buts”, the “well if he’d onlys”, and the “I would ifs” to sneak in if we are just being a little bit accountable. A little bit accountable moves us forward a little bit. It continues to give power to outside forces that are difficult to change and think very little (if at all) about how we feel.

Choosing radical accountability calls for us to say, “What is my responsibility here?” “What can I do to make this better for me or others around me?” “What could I have done better?” “Where did I make a mistake?” “What will I do differently next time?”

It doesn’t matter who else is involved or what someone else did. Not because they may not have impacted the situation. It doesn’t matter because most likely, we can’t change or control what they did or what they’ll do next time. And even if we can, the most powerful choice remains for us to choose what we can control.

Side thought: If we can change or control what the other parties do or don’t do, then we can also hold ourselves accountable for not changing or controlling that in the first place, or at least, for choosing now to change or control it after the fact.

James Altucher has a book, Choose Yourself, which to me, is a great reminder of the concept of radical accountability. The book centers around the concept that rather than relying on the man, the job, the corporation, or the at large choosers, that we should, instead, choose ourselves. We can make for ourselves, do for ourselves, lead for ourselves, and chart our own course.

When it comes to accountability, Choose Yourself. Who can make this better? You. Who can figure a way out of the situation? You. Who can create habits that can change our lives? You.

Yes, some people are born with advantages. Some people don’t have the same opportunity as others. Some people have more parents and some people have better parents. Some people have more money and some people have less money. Some people have disabilities and some people have natural abilities.

Again, what do we do with that? Complain or ask, “What do I do with this?” “What’s my role in changing my life or creating the life I want?”

ET The Hip Hope Preacher explains this passionately in You Owe You:

This is not about accepting things in society that are wrong or unjust or out of balance. Want to make a change? That’s great!

My encouragement is for us to not stand around pointing fingers, or continuing to make a list about why life is unbalanced, but to instead, make a decision to focus on what we can do about it, in our lives, in our society, in our family, and in our relationships.

Radical Accountability is about what we can do. It’s about what we can control. It’s about how we can move forward. It’s about choosing ourselves.

I’m pulling for you, Bryan


Writing that encourages.

If you want to learn more about me or follow along, check me out here.

You can listen to my podcast here.

Check out my book, Be Kind, It Might Be Their Birthday, here.

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