Accountability is a fitting topic for two freelancers working together on logistically complex projects with often ambiguous interpretive processes. As we embark on BLOGGING, I thought it would be best to avoid a "coming soon" post that leaves a too-predictable cliffhanger - no, it won't be here soon.
I wanted to open this blog with a post on accountability. Arguably, this blog will be the most back-burner task we have on our list. Keeping ourselves accountable for the content we put out into the world will be important.
No accountability secret sauce exists for us other than having a mindset to look beyond the many solutions out there that hold us responsible for the work we do. Sure, we make checklists, stay up-to-date with calendars, ask for feedback and set deadlines. However, there's a lot that we don't have evidence for that keeps us on top of our game.
Accountability does not simply involve the doing of things, the completion of things, or the proof that something is being taken care of. It involves having the mindset to offer something to others and ourselves. Here’s what we strive to do:
1. Imagine the narrative. Rather than understanding our tasks by their completeness and quality, we think about them in relation to other parts of our lives. By contextualizing tasks to a broader set of priorities, it's easier to picture driving them to completion. We like to think of work in terms of "Fun and Gains." If we’re getting neither enjoyment nor tangible benefit from the experience, it's likely that we won't feel the need to be accountable.
2. Be present for others. When we work with clients, partners, and peers, we are placing some kind of burden on them. Whether it's because we’ve asked for their collaborative energy, told them a story to solicit support, or cracked a joke expecting them to laugh, we do our best to be mindful of what it is we are requesting from them in that interaction. If we don't fill the world with noise (the sound of our own voices), we might gain something in the end.
3. Be curious, not judgmental. While this principle can be considered in all contexts, in reference to accountability its focus is on our treatment of ourselves. If we are having trouble driving a task to completion, we don’t dive deep into feelings of guilt or resentment. Our goal is to wonder why the trouble exists, and work on that first. Sometimes when we are hitting a wall with a deliverable, it’s because we are overworked, bored, or need some inspiration. Taking some time to tap into fulfilling those needs usually gets us to the point of moving forward.
With all that said, stay tuned for our next post. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on how you stay accountable to yourself and others.