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Accountability: Lead your family with the power of your word.

Consider this scenario from my practice: The wife complained to  her husband about his constant swearing. He listened with intent and promised to never swear again. She seemed relieved. Case closed, right? Not at all. What will most likely happen next is that he soon swears again and she feels cheated and powerless. Yet, another promise is broken. Saying ‘sorry’ is losing its effectiveness after repeated mistakes. Her resentment is growing and she begins to withdraw from him.   

Habits are hard to break.  They require special efforts and intention, and this is where the test of accountability comes in

I encouraged the woman to ask the man what should happen if he swore again. He reassured her that it wouldn’t happen. She wanted to accept it but I guided her to get from him an idea for what to do  “just in case it happens again”.  We asked him to be accountable. 

Hoping the case was resolved and left behind him the man became increasingly agitated.  “Do i need  to be punished like a child? He asked. Well, this is exactly where the difference between a king and a kid: When you choose your consequence it makes you a king, not a kid. You make a statement about how serious you are with your words. 

It is different to responsibility in several ways.  Responsibility comes before the event while accountability comes after. Responsibility refers to expectations,  accountability to outcomes. Responsibility can be shared,  not accountability.  As you can sense, accountability grounds responsibility and gives it a boost. It makes responsibility stronger by ensuring actions are followed through and tasks are accomplished. 

Accountability means owning your actions and accepting the consequences willingly.  

Accountability is your most powerful leadership tool for several reasons: 

  1. As you demonstrate your commitment to your values and your words you restore your reliability. Your wife and kids can take your word seriously again.
  2. Instead of getting defensive, feeling anger or shame, you maintain your honor by  acknowledging  your mistakes and take action to rectify them. 
  3. Your willingness to break a bad habit is a message of care towards your wife. She will highly appreciate your efforts. 
  4. You become aware of the impact of your actions. You build your sense of agency, your ability to act on your intentions.. As a King, things don’t just happen to you—you make them happen.
  5. You are willing to learn and adapt. It is a mindful attitude towards your mistakes. They teach you rather than shame you. It makes  accountability a fantastic tool for personal growth.
  6. When you act on your accountability you model to everyone else in the family how to own their issues, rather than blame others or play victims. You promote personal responsibility.

To sum it up, with accountability you enhance your leadership and personal integrity. You strengthen trust and respect and foster a culture of honesty and growth in your family

Practicing accountability 

For successful accountability you want to choose the right consequence. In my practice, I’ve seen various ideas that worked well: donating to charity, taking on a house chore for one week, buying something for your wife,  losing time with your hobby and more. And if some habits are stronger than yourself, consider counseling. Your willingness to own the issue and invest in repair will prove to your wife how committed you are to  your relationship. 

Here is your practice number two for The Way of a King. 

Talk to your wife about a behaviour that causes her much upset. We are not talking about your personality, just a specific habit that can be targeted for change. Once you agree to work on this habit, negotiate the consequence. As soon as you exhibit that distressing habit, take on the consequence. And if you do it with grace and playfulness everyone can enjoy the moment. It becomes fun.

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