Friday, June 15, 2007

Choices and Accountability?

“Choices and Accountability”

A teacher friend recently described this two-word recipe for success in life. This fine teacher spent years teaching young men and women how to make wise choices and accept personal accountability. The teacher fostered accountability with peers and mentors to assure that the students’ choices were wise. He also used relationships to verify that the students’ actions and the words matched up to produce the students’ stated and intended outcomes.

This “Choices and Accountability” recipe is a lot easier to see at work in the classroom than it is in adult life. One reason is that the classroom has good feedback systems and metrics that make accountability easier to create/understand. Without a source of evaluation, most people will find it hard to experience success. I did not say they would not succeed, but that they would lack the experience of succeeding.

We thrive on the experience of success. Students, who begin to work hard, receive improved grades. The ability to watch their grades increase can motivate them to work harder to achieve higher and higher goals and to learn to accomplish more in their learning. In this feedback rich environment, they also become smarter and better educated.

Adults find it harder to experience success. Fewer and fewer feedback systems allow adults to assess accurately how well their choices are working. Many adults end up trying to experience success based on income. The logic goes something like – “if I work hard, if I am bright, capable, talented, gifted, etc. then I will be rewarded with income and positive feedback/attention.” How many hardworking, talented good-hearted people do you know today who do not seem to receive recognition or compensation that reflects what they pour into life?

Is this vicious cycle of working harder and harder a sign of failure? People engaging in this kind of cycle certainly do not have an experience of being successful. That does not make it failure. It might make us think about the two-word recipe though. What choices lead us to give more and more while we receive less and less in return? Whom do we become accountable to when we enter into a cycle of low return? Will “Choices and Accountability” lead us to a more fulfilling and satisfying life?

Share your experience.

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