John-Michael recommended our forums this week be about accountability. I am most definitely one who needs it. I recently read Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, about forming good habits that stick with us. She divides people into four categories based on how they respond to expectations. These are:


  1. Upholders: will meet external AND internal expectations
  2. Rebels: won’t meet external OR internal expectations
  3. Questioners: will meet internal but not external expectations
  4. Obligers: will meet external but not internal expectations


According to Gretchen, I am an obliger. I am much more likely to get something done if I am accountable to an outside source (like a professor grading me, or a friend waiting for me in Rich Circle) than if I am only accountable to myself. As a helpful illustration: I’ve run four half marathons and one full marathon. Only when I signed up, often with a friend, did I actually begin my training. My goal in starting to train was to get myself into the habit of running, but I struggled to begin my habit without the accountability of the race date with the potential to embarrass myself due to lack of fitness and good preparation. (I really love to run now, though, and don’t need external accountability anymore; it’s a successfully formed, solid habit!)

In this course, I could have benefited from external accountability early on. I should have sought it out; it should have been offered to me, and back and forth, back and forth.

Today at our weekly meeting, we gave ourselves tasks to do. Then I said, “I need to be tied to something.” What I meant was that I need something to “tie” me to my responsibilities and keep me from drifting away from doing the things I’m supposed to do. I’m visualizing myself on a sailboat on a wavy ocean, needing to toss a rope around a wood piling so I don’t float away. One more important realization: that piling needs to be stable, steady, and grounded.

As we move forward with this course, as we consider how to be more accountable, I think this is a good image to bear in mind. We need to tie ourselves to our commitments and responsibility, definitely. At the same time, our administrators, supervisors, and department need to be steady supports. Both are needed, neither is dispensable.

I’m excited for us to keep moving!

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