No one should be beyond accountability and everyone should have to explain their actions.
You may be familiar with a website called glassdoor.com. It’s called this for good reason. This website permits you to search for a job and find out how the employer is rated by his or her own employees. What!? How dare an employer be rated by their own employees who they hired?! But yes, the boss is suddenly subject to the assessment and critique of their own employees. No longer are they hidden behind the door because the door is now glass. This website essentially believes that transparency only exists when it flows in all directions. No one should be beyond accountability and everyone should have to explain their actions.
Is this about employers? Definitely not. It’s about transparency, no matter who. Do think this might be threatening to people? It depends. On one thing. If they’re trying to hide. You and I know that the moment we’re hiding something there’s a problem. Did you ever notice that most wrongdoing is done in hiding, in private and in secrecy? It’s more pronounced when we talk about a perpetrator who threatens their victim if they say anything. It’s even more pronounce when we talk about a dictator who kills anyone who doesn’t align with them. While all of these scenarios are of varying degrees, at their root, they all share the same characteristics. Someone who is doing something wrong and attempting to protect themselves through a cover up, through hiding.
The reality is that it requires an almost herculean effort to be accountable to oneself. This is why transparency is so important. This is also why accountability is so necessary. They are the safeguard to so much of the negativity that we find around us. When we insist on transparency for ourselves and others, it is not a disciplinary act. It is actually a gift. It’s the gift of bringing out the best in people which can only be done when we are held accountable. This is why I find this website, glassdoor.com, to be a big step forward. This is also one of the great gifts of our current time. Due to technology, there are continuously fewer corners to hide in while more and more is becoming exposed. While initially this may be frightening, it offers us the gift of becoming more transparent people. And while this may be creating many other problems, I’m focusing on its silver lining.
When we want to measure the greatness of an individual, we should never measure it by whether they have done wrong but rather by how they deal with what they’ve done wrong. As humans we are inherently imperfect. We are all born with desires and inclinations for unhealthy things. This should be no surprise to anyone. It’s whether we can look at our wrongdoings with honesty that differentiates the great people from the average ones. Once again, hiding from reality is weakness, looking it in the eye is greatness.
You may have heard the story told of a young man working for IBM who made a decision that most warned would be unwise. However, he was convinced that he knew best and went along with his plans. That mistake cost the company 10 million dollars. Needless to say the young man was immediately called to the office of IBM founder Tom Watson Sr. I can only imagine what was going through the mind of this young man. Sweaty palms, trembling, fear. Upon entering Mr Watson’s office the young man looked down and said, “Well I suppose you want my resignation.” “You can’t be serious!” Mr Watson exclaimed, “We just spent 10 million dollars educating you! You’re not going anywhere!” One thing Mr. Watson understood. Mistakes have a tremendously high value, deeply embedded lessons that we don’t quickly forget.
A young man who I mentor once asked me about a habit that I have. My response to him was, “When you see that I have conquered this then you’ll know that I am great.” And just in case you’re wondering, I’m not great yet.
You probably know the very first biblical story about man, eating fruit from the tree. Can you remember what Adam and Eve did right after they ate from the tree? That’s right, they hid. G-d doesn’t condemn them for eating from the tree. G-d knows very well how strong the snake, our evil inclination is. So G-d simply asks them a simple question, “Where are you?” Of course G-d knew where they were. He was trying to gently they coax them out of hiding. You see, hiding was now a choice they were making on how to respond to their mistake. This, hiding, was the big problem. If we hide from our own selves, there is no hope.
So I leave you with a question, a challenge. In the next 24 hours, observe yourself, what are say and also what you choose not to say, and see if you can find a moment when you are hiding something. Then ask yourself, “What do I have to lose if I came out of hiding and what do I have to gain if I came out of hiding.” Remember, “Who is mighty? He who has conquered himself!”