Accountability: Communication, Boundaries, & Action
Accountability has been a common theme that has popped up in my friend group, in our community, and in society as a whole. I've been in numerous situations where others have held me accountable for commitments or for things I've done wrong, and I've also helped others stay accountable for the things they say or do. Everyone has varied expectations for what they want and need in their individual lives, and many of those expectations fall on others to show up, follow through, and be accountable. We all have so many similarities and common goals -- more than we think. Our commonalities bridge us together through work, hobbies, creative endeavors, family ties, friends, etc. In addition, our morals, values, beliefs, and spiritual practices tie us together in a deeper way. What would happen if we took the time to acknowledge what makes us similar, the bonds that we share, and our shared goals? What if we could use our differences and uniqueness in a more useful and productive way to uplift each other and fill in when there's an area someone is lacking? I think that's what true accountability is: knowing how to define yourself and your needs, setting healthy boundaries, building with your community, and speaking up at the right time.
To me, accountability is acknowledging goals and doing the honest, diligent work to reach them. Accountability is having a hard conversation, asking the right questions, and showing up for yourself and others in crucial situations. We as a creative community have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable for the work we do, for our individual and collective growth, and to hold society accountable for feedback on the work we create. It is the duty of the artist to take in and process the stimuli of life, love, loss, joy, pain, and many emotions in between, and to create beauty, intrigue, and a sense of resolution out of all of it. While resolution may not ever be fully attainted, we as creators have a response to the things we take in. The responses received from an artist could be negative, positive, light, dark, large, or small, but it is our answer to the human condition. And when members of a community of creators are authentic in the way they live and produce, honest with emotions, and wiling to take the steps toward more personal and social accountability, the common goals of the group advance more quickly. When members of a community are able to have real truth within their work and their life, there's a better chance at that community thriving and elevating.
What would it look like for a community to start implementing steps of accountability in more areas than working out or eating right? What steps does the individual need to take to even recognize where he or she needs to be more accountable? How do conversations turn into action when it comes to being open to change?
The first and most important pillar of accountability is communication. A community cannot build or heal properly without effective and consistent communication. If you know your friend has a project to finish, a goal to reach, or a task to handle, you have the choice to leave that person to their own devices, or you can help them be accountable for what they need to accomplish. Questions to ask when you see an opportunity to help others stay accountable could be: "What do you need?", "How can you get started on this?", "Do you want to take a break?", "What's the next step?", or other, more personal and specific questions. This will help others get in the mindset of completion, productivity, and ultimately, a greater sense of accountability.
After communicating goals and needs, boundaries must be set in order to distinctively pinpoint and organize sets of actions necessary to reach these community checkpoints. When the right boundaries are set, actions can be put in place in order to discipline and develop each other. Imagine your week: your work, your household chores, your time with friends/family. Imagine everything you had to accomplish this week. You did it all by communicating what needed to be done (either internally or with others), setting boundaries for the time and energy spent doing it, and then went forward with accomplishing your weekly goals, large or small. Apply that same notion to helping your community grow on a personal level. Ask the right questions, offer time and space to make things happen, and follow up on your friends to see how they're progressing.
Communication and boundaries set the foundation for real accountability to happen. The hardest part on the journey to being more accountable is action. We are all human and we all have the ability to make choices and decisions that either help or hinder our growth. We all make mistakes and we all have the chance to rise up when we fall. But nothing happens when we are unwilling to do the work that we are being held accountable for. It can start today, with a simple task or checking in on a peer. It can start tomorrow, by setting small goals right now. It can start next week with a fresh slate of enriching opportunity.
Accountability starts when you're ready to take the actions necessary to be an effective and honest communicator, to set boundaries for the time and energy spent to create the best life possible, and when you're willing to do the disciplined, intentional work of elevating yourself for the greater good of the community. I hope you're inspired to make a change in your life that will help you be more accountable or that will help others see you as someone to trust and lean on. Please feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to talk to, someone to keep it real with, or if you catch me slippin. We're all in this together.