Sitting in Mrs. Grant’s 4th-grade class, I became extremely perturbed with the young lady seated behind me. With little resources at my disposal, I did the best thing I knew how to do in the pre-text and instant messaging era. I wrote a note. On this note, I declared profoundly, that I would beat her ass! Now, I had no idea why I wanted to do this, but my annoyance left me with this as my only option. I folded it and passed it behind me.
Upon reading the note, the girl raised her hand and told the teacher that someone had passed her a note, but she was unaware who sent it. Looking back, this girl was a slick snitch. Mrs. Grant insisted she bring the note to her desk. Now, here I am sitting heavy with guilt at my desk trying to act as if I had nothing to do with the matter.
After the class dismissed for lunch, Mrs. Grant asked me to stay behind. She politely asked if I was the one who sent the note. I was caught red-handed, but I felt compelled to lie as most criminals do. As she unfolded the letter, there in plain sight was my name written on the paper. I used a page from my notebook that I had previously written my name on. Just too grown and too damn dumb for my own good. Mrs. Grant immediately called my Mother on the phone.
By the time, I had returned from lunch and recess, my Mother was in my classroom, holding the look of disappointment. I stood there in shame with my head hung low. In true Black mama fashion, she said, “Hold your head up NOW! Your head wasn’t down when you were writing nasty notes. My face was cracked. I was embarrassed.
As my Mother stood in front of Mrs. Grant, she told me I would be held accountable for my actions. I disrupted the learning process for the other children and took away valuable classroom time from Mrs. Grant, and I needed to apologize. She told me, I was to stand in front of the class and publicly apologize to the young lady for writing the note and to my class for cutting into their learning time. The next day, I I apologized.
When I returned home later that evening, my Mother sat me down and expressed that she was raising leaders. Very clear in her sentiments, she said that leaders take responsibility for their actions and behavior. Leaders admit when they have done something inexcusable and learn quickly from their mistakes. My Mother said that whatever I did in life, I would be held accountable for it.
Since that day, I have had to apologize many times over, in front of both large and small audiences. I had to exercise courage and hold my own feet to the fire when no one else was around to make sure I did. I have made many mistakes, and hurt other people in defining leadership for myself. It has never been easy, but it has always been fair.
If our goal is to succeed despite tough odds, we must take full ownership of our lives and do what we say we are going to do. Accountability is a deliberate choice that shows our vulnerability and our level of integrity. It is not about perfection but rather the thing that makes us beautifully imperfect humans.
My Mother taught me a valuable lesson in accountability that day that has carried me throughout my entire life. I was made a better sister, teacher, friend and leader because she never lowered her expectations for her children. She made sure we were people of high character.
Hold yourself accountable in every area of your life. If you need help, enlist the help of a disciplined friend
to serve as your accountability partner. Remember, you are the sole benefactor of your life. To live well, you first must be well. Set the markers of integrity high in your life and hold yourself accountable. The journey BEYOND will turn into the journey within.
Love and Grace,
5 Intentions to Hold Us Accountable
- I will spend 1-hour a day exercising.
- I will make fruits and vegetables the base of every meal.
- I will designate one day this week for dream building.
- I will commit to reading one new book.
- I will set time for daily reflection or meditation.