[Editor’s note: today’s post is an excerpt from Craig Gross’s new book Open. To learn more, visit GetOpen.com]
We all need to build those barriers, filters, and processes into our daily routines to help us achieve the goals we want to achieve. Want to get out of debt? Lose the credit cards. Want to steer clear of Internet porn? A filter on your web browser is a good start. Want to stay trim? Make sure the fridge is stocked with healthy stuff instead of junk. Want to quit smoking? Find somewhere else to hang out other than your favorite cigarette smoke–filled bar.
So, yes: please, by all means make sure you have exterior safeguards in place to help you keep your nose clean on this road we call life.
But I’m just going to tell you, and I speak from experience: if you want to get around a wall, you’ll get around that wall.
Credit cards can be cut up, but that doesn’t stop the inundation of offers for more of them. Web browser filters are great, but you can almost always find a way around them if you want to. It’s a fantastic idea to keep low-calorie foods on hand, but if you really want to cheat on your diet, McDonald’s is selling Chicken McNuggets in packs of twenty now. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you can avoid the bar . . . and still walk to the corner convenience store. . .
And that’s where accountability comes in. Because it goes far beyond any rule or barrier, dealing directly with the heart. When you make yourself accountable to one or two or four people, forging a deep, ongoing relationship with them, you begin to alter your internal compass and provide yourself with deeper reasons for living the grand life you want to live instead of the mediocre life that seems inevitable.
Instead of becoming a rule-follower or the type of person who goes right up to the edge of a barrier in order to see what’s on the other side of it, the accountable person has an emotional reason to make better choices. Other people—people whom you love and trust—are now fully invested in your life, and when temptation inevitably comes, you can withstand it more gracefully, knowing that your accountability partners will be asking you about it.
And let’s get this straight: this has nothing to do with wanting to look good in front of other people. That’s just straight-up pride. Instead, accountability has a way of humbling us. We don’t point our fingers at ourselves and say, “Check out how awesome I am that I resisted this temptation to do something awful.” No, we approach it with humility and gratitude that someone is investing so much time, energy, and love into the innermost parts of our lives. That alone is reason enough to stand strong in the face of tempting choices.