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I No Longer Believe in Accountability

If you’ve read my book, you would have read a story in which I regret trying to make a fellow coworker of mine accountable for what I perceived was a lack of work. To make a long story short, I needed things to happen for a project to be successful. I also needed the help of my coworker. When things weren’t happening, I shifted the blame off myself and showed that I wasn’t the one dropping the ball. Since looking back at the incident, it was wrong of me to do so.

The Power Over People

I’ve since learned that accountability is a form of pressure. In my case, it was a form of pressure to make my coworker do the work I thought needed to be done. In truth, the project means nothing to me now and should have meant nothing to me then. It was a weapon of control. You promised by telling me that you will do this task, and if you don’t I can make you do it by calling your integrity into question.

It’s the same thing when we talk about rules and expectations. Expectations and social agreements are much worse. When it comes to something like cancel culture, our idea of making someone accountable is outright shame. In both cases, we expect someone to follow the rules. If they happen to break the rules, we are allowed to treat them much like I treated my coworker because accountability now becomes our form of guilt. The issue with expectations and even rules is that they are all made up. Rules come from people who are in power, so when someone breaks the rules we are taught to align ourselves with the powerful thus making us better than the “perpetrator.” When you say, “I am holding you accountable for this action”, what you’re truly saying is “I’m more powerful than you.”

The Chains of Accountability

Being accountable to someone almost feels like you’re chained to that person. A subordinate is accountable to a manager, a child is accountable to his parents, and a space is accountable to her spouse. If any of these rules and/or social norms are broken, the expectation is punishment. This is why I tried to call out my coworker. When I truly think about it, it wasn’t about getting work done, it was about directing punishment towards this person. For that, I’m truly apologetic. It’s the reason why we are all terrified at work. If we make a mistake, we are beholden to a company that will have the right to punish us. If we do make a mistake, it’s easier to sweep it under the rug to avoid the negativity that awaits us.

Accountability also makes you believe that you should always have a reason for your mistakes. One would say that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you have a good explanation for them. In reality, mistakes happen and, for the most part, we can be unconscious of how the mistake was made. It’s like driving vigilently and all of a sudden you find yourself missing your freeway exit. It’s not that you purposely missed the exit, nor do you really know why you missed the exit outside of just a temporary lapse in thinking. Sometimes you do something so many times, that one time you do it wrong, but tell that to the judge. The judge will tell you to quit making excuses.

Dependability over Accountability

When it came to talks about promotions, I always found myself saying that I wanted more responsibility. That probably was a more PC way of saying that I wanted more power. Now, I don’t want either. I want to do a job because it brings me much joy and fulfillment, not because I’m responsible for the task and will be held accountable if it doesn’t get done. I no longer want to deal with any of that type of pressure. Instead, I would rather be a dependable worker than an accountable worker. I work with others in hopes that I can depend on them rather than have them be accountable for my requests. And yes, that comes with the uncertainty of coworkers not doing what was asked. That’s fine. I hold no power over my fellow human beings. If you want to talk about equality, this is it.