Category Archives: accountability

The farmer and the viper

Aesop’s fables told us everything we needed to know as children.

I read a large volume, hard covered copy in the library many times as a child.

It was thick and heavy and felt full. I felt full holding it on that old library floor.

That old library used to be a church and the knowledge I found within continues to be sacred to me.

Aesop told a story of a farmer and a viper. For a class project in the 6th grade I acted it out in a play.

I picked that fable to act out because it struck me as important then. I dressed in a heavy flannel shirt and wore jeans and my dad’s old hat. I had a silk snake stuffed with sand as my antagonist. I used to collect those at craft fairs because they felt so real.

It all felt real that day in Mr. Moser’s class.

I was terrified. But I did my best to tell the tale.

Here is what I learned about the farmer and the viper…

It may be easiest to bite the hand that feeds you. After all, their hand is so near your fang. But, in the end, you stand to lose every ounce of sustenance that you have ever known. You will undoubtedly starve. Worse yet, you’ll live a life of shame thereafter. Shame you’ll never rid yourself of.

So, I beg you, reconsider your hasty reactions to words and actions that may displease you.

Please, do not bite the hand that feeds you.

WE will be damned every time for “pitying the scoundrel” and we can NOT expect a reward from the wicked.

The power in personal accountability.

A man builds a bench. 

People sit on the bench.

The bench breaks.

The man blames the nails and builds another bench using different nails.

People sit on it.

It breaks again.

This time he blames the wood.

He uses different wood and nails to build a new bench.

People sit on it.

It breaks again.

Nothing left to blame for the injuries that occured than his own craftsmanship.

So he takes a class.

He builds another bench with the original wood and the original nails.

People sit on it.

It stays strong. No one falls. No one is hurt.

He’s proud of his work and people compliment his skills.

When he offered up excuses no one trusted his abilities to craft any object.

As they sat in every chair they were aprehensive, on guard, nervous.

When he blamed their weight for the collapse they were hurt and offended.

They wouldn’t return to buy his goods.

When the man owned up he was able to build strong seats. Craft quality products. He gained a new clientele with these goods. 

Word spread. 

Old clients heard and became less skeptical. They gave him a chance again. His new skills and well built furnishings were proof of his newly developed talents.

The old customer told people he was better now. They bought furniture that proved to be worth what he charged. 

They had faith in his skills because it had proven to be reliable and the changes he made were obvious.

Proof was given in real things, not empty promises and hollow words.

His business was now thriving because he stopped blaming the variables and improved himself.

This is the best example I could think of to describe the power that lies in personal accountability. Full personal accountability. Blaming no other variable for things that occur.

There are reasons for almost everything. But justifications hardly ever help someone to grow.

Sometimes life requires an explanation. But there are rarely acceptable excuses. None that actually mean anything, anyway.

When someone insists upon looking outside of themselves for these reasons, justifications, explanations, and excuses they become too distracted with everything that exists in a realm outside of their control and begin to ignore what they are capable of creating change in; the things inside of themselves.

No one is perfect. Mistakes are made. Even a person who takes full responsibility for their actions in most occasions can find fault in the external from time to time.

No growth occurs in these situations.

I crave growth.

I crave wisdom.

I crave accountability that paves way for positive change.

I learned long ago what enabled me to make these changes and I grew up.  Not all at once. Quickly, though.

When my mother died I felt very weak. She had always been so strong. She was so strong that no one around her had to be strong within themselves.

If something very difficult occurred I would call her. She would either help me find the solution or listen quietly as I worked it out myself, only interjecting her opinion to nudge me in the right direction.  Always letting know I had her support.

When she died, I felt lost. A lot of people did. She was a force of nature.

The best thing she did for me was to allow me to absorb her strength by being an excellent example for me.

The moment I realized that her strength wasn’t gone from this world but, instead, had been given to me like a priceless type of inheritance, I grew. I grew more in the following year than in the decade before.

I learned to rely on myself and I learned that I was, indeed, strong enough to face any obstacle I encountered. I was strong. A certain amount of strength is required in order to face failure without folding.

I also found a great deal of strength in recognizing my own limitations. By seeing my capabilities with honesty I was no longer exhausting myself by carrying too heavy a load. I learned to ask for help from qualified individuals because it’s easier to maintain a healthy spirit than to rebuild one that has been neglected, broken, and overworked. I realized my limits, pushed slightly past them to strengthen myself in order to grow somewhat stronger, then let others help me when it was necessary so no permanent harm was done.

The next attribute that helped me benefit from what I was personally responsible for in order to affect positive change was humility.

When I lived inside of myself I lived in my own ego. Often times it wasn’t the type of an egocentric nature that made me feel better than or above others. Quite the opposite. I felt unworthy and unlovable.  I hardly had the motivation to do the work that creates growth. I felt low and small and as if I deserved the bad. So much so that I didn’t even bother to attempt to live in the good.

Or, even when I felt somewhat worthy of good things, I would doubt that my comfort or well being was worth anything more than another person’s. I often had an unbalanced measurement, one that worked to my disadvantage, that made me believe the discomfort that would befall others if I did what was necessary to keep myself healthy was unfair to them and this often caused me to accept negative treatment that I didn’t deserve.

Other times I felt that because of what had been done to me that someone, somewhere, owed me something. It felt like a good excuse for my bad behavior and that mentality kept me feeling like a victim every moment of every day.  I stayed in that mentality too long because it was easier than doing the work necessary to make a real positive change.  

There was absolutely no benefit in these excuses. I stayed stuck. I stayed sick. I stayed the same. I was in pain but had an explanation for it so I thought it was OK. It wasn’t and I needed to grow up and out of it or I was going to be that way forever.

When I began to see myself as an equal to others I saw that I deserved no more and no less. I was no longer humiliated I was humble. I was no longer complacent and living in justifications, I was right sized and ready to change and correct bad behaviors.

I don’t take credit for things I don’t have a right to and I try not to place blame on others unless I have to, even when they deserve it. I typically don’t run around gossiping about others bad behaviors but when I’m asked to and feel compelled to be honest I won’t lie for them. I won’t lie for anyone. It isn’t constructive or conducive to healing and personal improvement or advancement. 

I own what I have a right to. I take responsibility for what I’ve done because being equal to the rest leaves me no room to attribute myself with more or deny myself of the rest.  I don’t take undeserved punishment and I won’t inflict it upon another to benefit myself in any way. 

The depletion of prideful nature allowed me to make real ammends. No excuses attached. No offerings of justification or explanation to deplete the sense of honesty that came with my apologies.  My survival wasn’t dependant upon their acceptance of my apology, either. I had gained strength to thrive without them. I had gained self worth and that came from doing good. 

I proved to myself I was worthy of a good life by living one.

I had gained the ability to practice a healthy sense of humility that made self awareness possible and non destructive. When I stopped feeling I was owed something and stopped focusing on what had been done to me, I stopped feeling like a victim. I took the power from the hands of those who had hurt me and decided to hold the reigns myself.

I realized who I was, what I was capable of, what I was responsible for, what I needed to improve, and what I had power over.

When I could look at myself and my actions instead of focusing on the affect that people, places, and things I had no control over had in the circumstances I faced, I was finally able to take hold of a dormant power. I could change things. I could grow. 

Strength, humility, and self awareness were the attributes that made accountability possible for me. I can truly focus on what is beneficial now. I can see what I am capable of creating change in. I can grow.

Of course I had to be willing to do the work. I had to accept whatever came my way.  A lot of unexpected changes occured and I had to be flexible and open  minded.  

Attributes cannot be strengthened if strength isn’t put into practice. Defective personality traits can’t be changed or lessened without humility and the awareness that they exist and belong to you entirely are realized and put to work.

There is no excuse for bad behavior after these principles are put into practice. There is no sincerity in an apology heavily laden with excuses.

You can tell someone you love them every day but they won’t believe it, not even one time, if your behavior proves otherwise. They won’t believe it one time if the words “I love you are followed by the word “but…”. Then your love has become conditional. I don’t believe in conditional love.

Accountability moves us forward while denial only keeps us stuck in negativity, losing people who have heard the excuses too often.  No one will know who I really am if they’re always running away or being replaced and I want to be known. I want to be known for who I am.  

Accountability makes me better and paves the way for long lasting and real relationships, truly fixing the harms done and making wrongs right. It creates trust and respect. It is an action of integrity. 

It is necessary in my life. 

The man building the bench wouldn’t have succeeded had he continued to blame the variables. 

He would have lost everything he worked for and he would have had to start over completely had he made the decision  to give up.