Clarity and Accountability

“Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on.” – David Whyte

There are two primary roles I play with clients as an accredited ICF coach – Companionship and Accountability. My role is to walk with individuals and organizations asking questions that hopefully bring them greater clarity. Once that focus is obtained my role shifts to that of accountability partner.

Experience has taught me that gaining clarity is a harder task than most people assume. In part because most of us have become quite adept at avoidance through rationalization. At the heart of the rationalization is a strong scarcity narrative: not enough time, not enough money, not enough people, not enough know-how, not enough…Yet, once you invite people to begin to wonder what a different way could look like our brains inherently begin to find clarity in the possibilities.

And clarity is great, but only half the way to the desired outcome. Holding oneself accountable is a heavy lift for many of us, but holding others accountable can be daunting. Time and time again I work with groups who have the best intentions to hold each other accountable but when push comes to shove just can’t muster the courage. There is often conscious and unconscious fear that accountability equates to conflict. This, in fact, does not need to be the case.

There are five simple words that are at the heart of accountability, “Speaking the truth in love.” This admonition from Paul to the faith community in Ephesus was clear: for growth to take place, the truth must be told. Yet as important is how the truth is told, how we hold each other accountable. Demeaning, diminishing, shaming, blaming or accusatory descriptions are usually meant to be punitive rather than promoting growth.

The willingness to do the heavy lift of moving from scarcity to possibility provides the trajectory towards growth. Having the courage to hold ourselves and each other accountable through telling the truth in love provides capacity for real growth to occur.

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