So often we think it critical to respond to questions immediately with an answer.
Do you remember when one of the most popular shows on network television was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
More than 30 million viewers would watch as the host, Regis Philbin, asked a question, provided a few choices and required the participant to answer. After providing the answer, Regis would almost always ask another question: “Final answer?”
But, what great teachers and leaders know is that sometimes the best way to answer a question is to ask another one. [Tweet this.] They do it not to build suspense for a television audience, but to deepen the belief – the ownership and accountability – of the individual answering.
When I was nine-years-old laying on what was expected to be my deathbed after a house fire, my mother guided me with this same approach.
The accountability her question sparked within me changed the trajectory of my life.
Mom came into the emergency room. She told me she loved me. I remember looking into her eyes and asking a simple question, “Mom, am I going to die?”
My goal with this question was to have her take away my fear; to comfort me and give me reassurance. I expected her to answer by telling me they’d get me out of here tonight and we’d get milkshakes on the way home!
Instead, she clasped my hand gently in hers, brushed back my bangs, looked into my eyes, paused for a moment and asked: “John, do you want to die? It’s your choice, not mine.”
My mom was either the coldest, most miserable, callused parent or absolutely extraordinary and wildly compassionate. She was either fully disengaged in my life-or-death situation or was so committed to it that she’d risk everything to see it through.
She served as a wonderful reminder to me of what we must all know: whether fighting to avoid death or to vibrantly live, we must be ALL-IN. [Tweet this.]
There is no middle ground, no passive participant, no do-over. You have to be accountable for your actions and your outcomes and your life. No one else can do this but you.
She challenged me to choose and to fully engage.
I remember being stunned by my Mom’s question. I looked back at her and said, “Mom I do not want to die. I want to live.”
She responded, “Then, John, you need to fight like you’ve never fought before, you need to take the hand of God, and you need to walk this journey with Him. Race forward with everything you have. Daddy and I will be with you every step of the way. But John, you listen to me: you need to fight.”
That day we made a commitment to faithfully, courageously fight on. We had no idea of what tomorrow might hold. All we knew was that we were committed, we were holding each other accountable and we’d do everything in our power to fight on each day.
My friend, regardless your difficulties professionally, challenges relationally, or diagnosis personally, I encourage you to fight on. Your journey forward may not be easy and I offer no milkshake promises.
But in holding yourself accountable – to what is important to you in life, relationships, business – you will be liberated to take back your life, ignite your possibility and change your world.
Each day, “fire and water are before you; you can stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.” So, do you want to really live?
Me, too! Now, hold yourself accountable. Take back your life, ignite your possibility and change your world.
The best is yet to come.
During June we are exploring accountability. What are you really living for? How are you holding yourself accountable to that each day? Share in the coments below. Can’t wait to hear.
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