Holding people to account.

I recently read “The Wisdom and Teachings of Stephen R. Covey”. I read it because I like to read and sometimes that includes things that are good for me.

I frequent the same catalogue numbers in the non-fiction section of the library, checking for new and never read titles that appeal. I often strike out – a friend who works at the library tells me that inspirational and self-help are popular theft items. Luckily, last Thursday I came up with a winner.

I read Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” years ago in its first paperback incarnation. I didn’t live by the habits nearly as well as I could have but the philosophies resonated and informed enough to have some influence on my character.

In case you’re curious the seven habits are as follows:

be proactive; begin with the end in mind; take care of first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then be understood; synergize (practice creative cooperation); and sharpen the saw (have a balanced program for self-renewal to preserve and enhance yourself physically, socially and emotionally, mentally, and spiritually). *

I still have the book; it lives on the inspirational and recovery-based bookshelf in my office. It was on my list of things to reread so I considered stumbling across this new book a sign and scooped it up. Plus, it fitted in nicely with my plan to fill up a notebook with inspirational quotes. It guaranteed quotes aplenty.

The problem with books is they make you think. I was only two pages in when I came across this gem:

“holding people to the responsible course is not demeaning; it is affirming.”

This is something I struggle with. Holding people to a standard of behaviour. Enforcing boundaries. Feeling entitled to make requests. Part of it has to do with the flawed core belief that I’m working on, that I am only here on sufferance and have to earn my air. I’ve made great strides in my day-to-day thoughts and behaviours but that core belief is stubbornly persistent.

There is something else though that stops me from calling people out on behaviours, enforcing my boundaries, and making requests.

I’m afraid that doing so will make the other person feel bad. I suspect that’s not an uncommon reaction.

It has to do with empathizing and projecting. If I was the recipient of my pushback when my boundaries are violated, I’d be sad.

I think.

It’s quite unlikely to occur, now that I think about it. I try hard not to hurt people or violate their boundaries as a matter of course.

That I don’t require the same courtesy from others is not a good thing. I’m not doing them any favours but letting their behaviours slide. If we want to grow and develop, we need to understand our problem areas.

How will we learn otherwise?

Far from helping people by protecting them from the hurt I imagine they’ll feel if I’m honest, I’m preventing their growth.

I want my children to be responsible people. I want that for my family and friends as well. Wanting people to be good people seems like a nice thing to hope for. But it won’t or can’t happen if there are no consequences for behaviour that is otherwise.

I’m going to remember that when I feel apologetic. I’m not harming people by holding them to account, even if makes everyone momentarily uncomfortable. I’m helping them grow. And by speaking up, I’m helping me too.

A win-win. Mr. Covey would approve.  

Are you comfortable enforcing your boundaries and holding people to account?

*The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.


7 thoughts on “Holding people to account.

  1. I appreciate this writing. I have struggled with striking a balance between “letting people be themselves” and offering them corrective feedback when I see something I think is a harmful, selfish, etc. behavior. I have recently doubled down on my effort to offer honest reflections. I, of course, try to deliver it in love, but that doesn’t always make it palatable to the hearer! I’m encouraged to read that you are also on the same journey. May we find the right balance!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. On different levels I fail to establish and enforce boundaries. Be it with myself or others. As an entrepreneur, I let a client get wild with my SOW and found myself working more for less. With my husband we face many issues not just because of the language barrier but our cultural differences. I’ve been wanting to reread Covey’s book. As a child I learned the word “paradigm shift” from him but I feel that as an adult, it’s definitely time to actually experience those shifts! Thanks for sharing this insightful post and I hope you and your family are staying safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I imagine boundaries are trickier with business – you don’t want to alienate people. If you find
      a copy of the quote book, I recommend it. If the cost wasn’t so dear on Amazon, I’d buy it. Blessing and stay safe as well.


  3. Boundaries are hard. Especially if you are a well trained codependent. Which I was- or am? IDK. I think there are ways to enforce boundaries that make them more palatable. I try to do so with love and intention. I try to depersonalize the reaction or response I may receive as a result of my boundary. I have been listening to a book called “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks. It’s really an interesting read but it talks about taking the blame and criticism out of the equation. I’d like to accomplish that also. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

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