Is there a dark side to accountability?

I’m a big fan of accountability.

Telling people you are going to do something is a great motivator for actually seeing it through.

It’s especially useful when it comes to doing something we care deeply about or holds great import in our lives but we have a lot of resistance around doing, like writing.

On some level, when we know we’re about to do something BIG, something that fulfills the calling or deeper purpose behind why we are here, we get scared.

We ask ourselves:

  • What if it works?
  • What if it doesn’t?
  • What if I can’t pull it off?

It’s like looking at the sun

These are the typical fears of someone staring their Big Dream in the face.

And usually, it’s too much to look at for long — it’s too bright, like staring into the sun.

And when we do look at our Big Dreams, they can feel overwhelming.

We feel like we have to do the whole thing NOW. Today. Tomorrow.

No wonder we put them off.

Take one bite at a time

That’s where the deliciousness of accountability for small daily action makes such a beautiful difference. It helps us break things down into the smallest incremental bites and take consistent action on them.

That’s how you eat an elephant — one bite at a time.

What happens when you don’t?

But what happens when you don’t take the small daily actions? I see people commit to their dreams but then fail to take action on them.

I feel so sad when this happens, not because they have failed to do their work, but because they have failed to ask for help.

True accountability can and should occur in a safe, supportive space where people feel comfortable coming forward and saying, “I’m not taking action on this and I don’t know why. Can you help me?”

Then, your accountability partners can help you find out why, and what might work better.

Safe space is co-created

One thing that many people fail to notice is that safe space is co-created.

When I welcome people into my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle, I make a point to talk about how we want participants to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. We want to know the whole person, the self that has an easy time and the self that has a hard time, so we can truly support and witness each other.

We co-create our safe space by being honest with each other. It doesn’t happen by accident or only on my end.

I hold the space, you come into it, and we perpetuate it by being present and truthful with each other.

Without honesty, we get shame

By being truthful together in that space, we can avoid falling into the dark side of accountability: Shame.

Shame can be a positive motivator when it comes to accountability — it’s part of what gets us into action. But if it persists, and we don’t take action and we don’t talk about it, it can consume us, overwhelm us, and keep us stuck.

Bottom line?

True accountability and support happens in partnership.

If you’re finding yourself hiding out, it’s time to get help. We ALL feel this way at times — I certainly do.

The key is to reach out and get support from the right people who can help you get back on track.

Your Turn

Does this inspire you to shift anything for yourself? We’d love to hear about it.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> March 1st, 2012. Last day to register for my next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group on March 29th. Only ONE SPOT is remaining, and registration closes TOMORROW, Thursday, March 1st. Register here.

~> March 15th, 2012. Last day to register for the next session of my Writer’s Circle session starting on March 19th. Get my Free Writing Tips series too, and receive a coupon for a savings on your first 4 week session. Sign up here.

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Writing in the ProSeries class at ScreenwritingU, which was recently named the #1 screenwriting class by InkTip.

~> Daily and especially Fridays. Sacred writing time. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Still haven’t watched Super Eight! I got to re-watch The Game yesterday for one of my screenwriting assignments. Great fun.

Comments

  1. Hi Jenna,

    Sometimes stating a big dream works as a motivator. Sometimes it works as a deterrent. It depends on a person’s underlying fears. The fears of achieving the big thing are often the culprit. What happens if I write that book? Then I have to go on a book tour, etc, etc. I’m a big advocate for those with big dream anxiety to warm up with small dreams … It can lessen the fears of the big dream. Break the big dream into smaller dreams so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

    Good article! G.

  2. Right on the money, Jenna! I find that some success towards a big goal flips me into the same, “gotta do it right now” place. It’s ironic, because the tiny little steps forward is what got me to success in the first place; why would “do it all now” magically work better now in success mode than it did it overwhelm mode? Your post is making me re-think the way I’m structuring my day, and I already feel freer. Thanks, Jenna…you rock!

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