Who is your accountability partner?

It is fascinating to watch the news nowadays. So many “untouchable” people are being exposed and assets being repossessed. It begs the question on how this happened and how it could have been prevented.
We are living in treacherous times and I think we have all felt compromised with decisions we had to make and relationships we had to re-evaluate in our lives. People sometimes expect things from us and almost manipulate us into believing that their needs or expectations are reasonable and acceptable, even when it is not in line with our values.

It often feels as if common sense is no longer common. People are doing things they should not be doing and getting themselves into all sorts of trouble. Not only are we hurting ourselves when we betray our values but we also betray so many others. We forget that the bigger our influence the more damage we cause when our decisions and actions are principled.
Our human nature drives us to always be looking for a quick fix or an easy solution. We see how social media and internet millionaires are born and how people get rich from the stock market and other high risk ventures. I guess it is possible to find your fortune without hard work, but is it sustainable? I once read an article where the Lotto admitted that people who win lots of money sometimes fall into depression and even go as far as committing suicide. They now offer support to help people manage their new found riches, which makes perfect sense. I have come to realize that easy come, easy go, is usually true.

We all have needs and I think it is extremely important to understand what these needs are and how they impact our lives. We all have a need for security, knowing that we have an income and a place to stay. This is the first level of the Maslows’ hierarchy of needs. We also have emotional needs, for instance we all want adventure and variety in our lives. For some this need is greater than others. We need to understand that although we have all these needs, one of them is usually our driving force. And if our driving need is unmet, it will influence how we choose life partners, how we invest our money, how we raise our children and everything else that we hold near and dear. If our needs are not met, it will be very difficult to commit to our values because our needs often outway our values.

Another need is for love or connection. Sometimes when people get hurt, they rather go for the superficial version of a platonic or purely physical relationships rather than the real deep connection we all need. Because the real need is not met, we have to constantly feed the hunger within. Sexual addiction or even social media addiction where we have lots of “friends” comes to mind. We have connections but no real bonds of friendship or love.

We all have a need for significance. We want to feel special and unique and we are. No one has your finger print, voice print, eye print or personality. This however does not seem to be enough for most people. If this need is your dominating need, you will do anything to get attention or to be noticed, even if it is negative attention.

We all have a need for growth and improvement. Some people who have this driving need will never stop learning and trying out new experiences. It can be in the form of lifelong learning or in becoming the best in their field of influence. Some people who achieve all their dreams to soon, will feel disillusioned and will look for the next big thing. I once watched an interview with a lady who did base jumping and even after losing her boyfriend (killed when his parachute did not open), she was not able to stop. In fact, she was already thinking of the next highest building to jump from eventhough she realized that next time might be her last.

Next need is about adding value and feeling that you are contributing and leaving a legacy behind. Even though it sounds unselfish, it also fulfils a need in all of us. We need to know that we are valuable and that we can offer something. I think someone like Mother Theresa possibly had this as a driving need. It would have been interesting to interview her. The last need is worship and I think these two needs often complement each other. Even people who don’t believe in God will find something to worship like celebrities, sport even their work.

Looking back at the people we mentioned in the beginning, we can reflect on what need motivated their behaviour. Maybe some of them did it for variety (adventure and excitement) knowing that they could be caught and that they could live the high life at least for a while. It could have also been their need for significance, driving that Porche certainly stroked the ego and made them feel more important than the next guy. Or it might have been their need for security- some people who grew up with a lack of possessions feel at a disadvantage and will do everything not to feel that way again . Maybe did it for connection or acceptance. If you are in a system like a gang for instance, criminal behaviour is the norm and if you want to be accepted by the system you need to be loyal and contribute to the system.

So how do we get to a place where we become aware of our needs and live lives based on values and principles, rather than needs? Sometimes the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Maybe crises in our lives present opportunities to re-evaluate who we are and who we want to be, and to then make the necessary change we need to make to save our souls.

But we first need to have a need for truth and growth. Only when we want to become better than we are, will we do the introspection and work needed to get us there. I guess it is not unlike climbing a mountain like Everest. You need to decide that you want to reach the summit, then you have to commit to doing the work, finding the time and getting the team you need to make it happen. I have never heard of anyone climbing Everest on their own.

We need people in our lives who can help us see our blind spots and hold us accountable when our needs override our values. These people should stand for our higher good and should be our accountability partners. Challenging our thinking and our behaviour and also inspiring us to aspire to become who we want to be. We also need cheer leaders who are there to support and cheer us on when things get difficult and when we consider giving up.

So who is your accountability partner? Is it someone with integrity? Is it someone who loves you unconditionally, sees your potential and wants what is best for you? Even if you don’t have someone like that, could you be that for someone else?
Let us begin to hold each other accountable, not just for ourselves but for our collective futures. We are our brothers keepers, and they are ours.

It is not only what we do.
But also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.

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