OpenAt we talk about the idea of being “open” a lot. Often we refer to this as the practice of accountability. The thought of being accountable to someone can be very scary. It can almost seem oppressive. But the truth is that being open or accountable can be one of the most freeing things you’ll ever do for yourself.

In my recent book Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable I delve into this subject extensively. I talk about the benefits of being open and how openness translates to real life.

Read this except from my book dealing with openness and the family. After that check out my book Open here and buy it for only $1.99. This is a ONE DAY offer from our friends at Nelson Books.

My kids are currently nine years old and seven years old, and since we are a family that embraces technology, they currently have iPods, which they mostly use for listening to music and for playing the occasional game.

If you don’t know anything about the way iPods work (or iPhones and iPads, for that matter), I’ll need to catch you up to speed on an important part of this story: when you get one of these devices, you create a password-protected account with Apple to be able to buy and download applications from their “App Store.” This where you get all those games and other tools to use on your iPod.

Any time you go to buy something from the App Store, you have to enter the password to your account, as an extra layer of safety to prevent you from accidentally buying things with a wayward swipe of your finger or to prevent your children from buying things with intentional swipes of their fingers.

When I got the iPods for my kids, I set them up with a single account and a password that only I knew, so that I could manage their iPods for them and make sure they didn’t buy some ninety-nine-dollar app where you feed fish and hope they don’t die.

Well, guess what? My son figured out the password.

He immediately started freaking out, just thinking about and contemplating the enormous power he could now wield over his iPod. No longer any need to wait for Dad to punch in the password to update his apps. No need to run any future purchases through the funnel of the father; instead, he and his sister could just live it up on their own.

It wasn’t long before my daughter told me that my son had figured out the password, so we had to figure out what to do about it. My wife suggested that I change the password, but after putting some thought into it, I decided to let it stay, and here’s why.

My kids know where I keep the keys to my car, but I don’t ever worry that they’re going to nab them and go for a joy ride. My kids know where to find my wallet, but I don’t live in fear that they will go on an Amazon spending spree with my debit or credit cards.

I don’t have those fears because, in both those cases, there would be a tangible consequence that is impossible to ignore. My car would have less gas and more miles on it (and presumably more dents in the fenders), or we would have UPS knocking on our door delivering boxes of DVDs or every Batman LEGO set. My kids are smarter than that.

Plus, they know it’s wrong.

So I decided to bring in my son and daughter and tell them I wasn’t changing the password to their accounts on their iPods. “But,” I said, “you know the rules: you aren’t allowed to buy anything on your own without my approval first. And if you buy something, know that I’ll get an e-mail from the App Store telling me what you bought and how much it cost, and the day I get that e-mail is the last day you have an iPod.”

So far, it’s working.

Eventually, my kids will be old enough to have their own accounts, with their own passwords linked to their own money, and they’ll have the opportunity to buy whatever they want. My hope is that, at their current young age, I can demonstrate to them now how freeing it is to live a life with no secrets, with no fear of being found out.

So, what do you think? Would you have handled this situation in the same way?

Regardless of how you’d answer me the truth is that accountability and being open are both things that can benefit you AND those in your life greatly.

Remember, get my book Open today only for $1.99 (Tweet This!).

You can’t buy many things for $1.99. Not even apps from the app store!


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