Accountability: Raising the Bar of Personal #Integrity


Business woman with a group

Accountability is first and foremost one’s responsibility to measure personal standards of living by evaluating behaviors through a Biblical filter, then realigning oneself to expected standards of righteousness. This is accomplished in many ways. Too many people would rather forego accountability and live independent lives; this was not God’s intention from the beginning (Genesis 3:7-11 & 4:5-13). We are to live in community with God and others, affecting and challenging each other’s lives. The purpose of Christian accountability is to walk before God in holiness. There are many methods available to secure credibility and restore integrity, the following five cornerstones of Christian accountability do just that.

1. Conscience (Self-Awareness)

A speaker once asked the audience in a seminar I attended, “Where did you get your conscience?” Silence filled the room. When no brave soul responded, the speaker answered his own question, “You acquire your conscience from your parents?” He then explained himself, “Parents are the primary source of moral teaching.” Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition, or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong.[i] Do you remember being corrected for certain things you said or did as a child? You bet you can. We carry these moral bearings introduced first by our parents throughout life; they are very much part of what shapes our conscience. When we attempt something outside these moral teachings an internal code embedded within brings awareness to our poor decision-making.

2. Conviction (Spirit Awareness)

Another method of Christian accountability is the “conviction” of the Holy Spirit. Conviction is the quickening of your mind and spirit that something you are about to undertake is inappropriate. An interesting aspect of conviction is that you feel a strong impression within to do the right thing. The Spirit presents or reveals an exit sign directing you to do the right thing. Sometime ago I purchased one of my favorite High School albums (this is 30 years after High School). I just wanted to hear some music from the good ‘ol days. At the time of purchase I didn’t think much of it. When I heard a certain song lyric I felt a strong conviction override me. I was stricken and grieved within my spirit. As soon as I arrived to my house I threw the c.d. away, and asked God to forgive me. I came to understand this album represented my old life; the one I walked away from to follow Christ. The Holy Spirit was not pleased with a certain lyric, and made me aware of His sentiments.

3. Community (Saintly Love)

We cannot avoid a conversation about accountability without discussing community. You and I belong to many communities; family, ethnic group, the workplace, neighborhood, and other associations. The most important community, in my opinion, is the faith community; the house of worship you and I attend on a weekly basis. The loving and caring relationships within this community bring accountability to our lives.

One day as I shared this insight with a friend at church. At mid-stream he stopped me and shared a story with me. On the previous Sunday, for some reason, he decided to attend an earlier service, missing his usual service time at 11 a.m. The people he would usually connect with on a Sunday morning noticed his absence. So later on that afternoon he received a few phone calls from those church members asking about his whereabouts. The people he had come to know and love where simply concerned about him. Community is crucial for your wellbeing. In a community you have people who love and care about you and are willing to ask about your life, most importantly to align your life.

4. Communion (Sacramental Grace)

The Sacrament of communion is a personal confrontation of one’s life in the presence of Christ Himself; a sacred act of introspection, evaluation and confession. No one else is involved in this spiritual practice but you and God. According to Scripture, prior to receiving communion:

A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

This is a powerful and dreadful statement. The writer goes on to say,

That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep [a metaphor for passing away]. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.”[ii]

Communion, therefore, starts by confronting self, by going into the private recesses of our mind and inner spirit, inviting Christ to probe deep inside for the purpose of revealing shortcomings in my personal walk with Him. Also in this process, we take a look back to remind ourselves of His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection; the price he paid for our sins to remind ourselves that we now belong to Him. We are also reminded of His return, which means that between His death and His second coming you and I must live holy lives, pleasing to Him.

5. Correction (Sages and Seers)

Correction is the final component of Christian accountability. This is where your pastors, the sages and seers, in your faith community come into play. The writer of Hebrews notes,

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account,” [iii]

Pastors, mentors and ministry leaders are “sages and seers” who are part of your spiritual development. You must allow them access to your pesonal life from time to time, because they impart wisdom and insights into your life bringing you to another level of spiritual order and operation. After all, faithful are the wounds of a friend, right?

These five tools to bring accountability to our lives are meant to realign us to right living. One thing is for sure, we will have no excuse when we stand before our Maker. He has provided you and I with at least five accountability mechanisms so we can walk uprightly before Him each and every day.

Is there another form of Christian accountability? Are any of these five new to you?

Endnotes:

[i] Wikipedia: Conscience, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscience, accessed 1.11.11.
[ii] 1 Corinthians 11:28-31 (NIV).
[iii] Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
[iv] Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

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Latino Townhall’s Top 25 #LatinoQuotes for #2013 – Part I


I’m currently writing a book on Leadership… and these are some thoughts that have surfaced during the first part of 2013:

Joined in business

“Leaders develop foresight by fostering skills in perception and knowledge.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 1st 2013)

“A leader is the first one to show up and the last one to leave; the one who inspires as well as perspires.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 2nd 2013)

“Passion is possessing an extreme focus and dedication towards achieving a goal.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 3rd 2013)

“A masterful leader exerts influence for the purpose of transformation through collaborative effort.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 5th 2013)

“Eternity is just not a place reserved for us; it lives in our hearts and expresses itself through deeds done to others.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 5th 2013)

“You were created as a mystery; an unfolding story revealed through time.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 10th 2013)

“Vision is an invitation to live a stimulating life.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 10th 2013)

“Passion is evident when optimum energy is released, and dynamic synergy is increased.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 11th 2013)

“Leaders enlarge the Kingdom within to influence the world throughout.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 12th 2013)

“The wise shut up long enough for all the stupid people to stop talking.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 12th 2013)

“Leaders create unrestrained atmospheres where followers feel engaged to rise above their limitations.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 26th 2013)

“Influence is a gift and a study; it is acquired through learning and nurtured by growing.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 27th 2013)

“Leaders dwell in the realm called “above and beyond”, making the extraordinary look common.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 27th 2013)

“Leadership is reflecting the values others want in themselves, then communicating a vision commensurate with those values.” –Joel Garcia (Jan. 29th 2013)

“The leader who offers help gives hope.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 1st 2013)

“Significance means, ‘I matter, and have value.’ Purpose is when my journey matters and adds value to others.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 6th 2013)

“A promise is an intangible, until you connect it to a source who can fulfill that promise.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 8th 2013)

“The critical factor in personal development is not what a leader learns but what he or she unlearns in the process of learning.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 10th 2013)

“Chaos is the absence of wisdom.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 12th 2013)

“Influence is the transfer of trust, and with that trust comes power.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 14th 2013)

“If it’s not yours in the first place, you’ve got nothing to lose.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 17th 2013)

“Transition is the ability to perceive change coming, to pause and understand its significance and adapt to it.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 22 2013)

“Leaders who walk in integrity live in controversy.” –Joel Garcia (Feb. 25th 2013)

“A leader’s quest is to turn challenges into solutions.” –Joel Garcia (March 16, 2013)

“Competent leaders create stable and secure working environments.” –Joel Garcia (March 16, 2013)

___________

Please feel free to copy and paste wherever you like… note, I’ve added the date only to remember the date I came up with these original quotes. I google all my quotes to ensure I am not infringing on anyone’s thoughts, ideas or quotes.

The Engaged Leader: A Surprise Visit by a Regional Vice President


Joined in business

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” –Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup

Our morning at the office was akin to any normal day; staff members arrive, greet each other, clock in, make coffee, and do whatever it takes to get the operational apparatus moving for the day. After thirty minutes, we settled into our workstations and commenced small talk with each other before engaging in our daily routine. All the sudden, I observed through the front office window what seemed to be the Regional Vice President entering the office at a fast pace. Somewhat startled, I exclaimed, “It’s the V.P.!” before he entered the office. I was surprised to see the Regional Vice President was by himself, without the usual entourage of the Regional and District Managers with clipboards in hand ready to write down every detail of the meeting. Normally, these types of meetings from out of town brass tend to create a tense working environment, where our district leaders prepare store managers and staff, days ahead of time. During these scheduled visits every office in the region walks on “pins and needles”, hoping team members will say the right things, present the goal board properly (the current performance metrics), and ensure the office is up to corporate standards; clean, neat and organized. Not this time?

As the Regional V.P. walked in, we got up and greeted him one-by-one. We were so happy to see him without the usual hype. In other words, we did not have to conform to a false corporate mold to make a good impression.

For reasons I will go into in a few moments, my colleagues and I were not intimidated at all by his presence. Our meeting with the Regional V.P. lasted about fifteen minutes. After his departure, the office was energized by his presence, so I sat at my desk and wrote down a short list of what I saw and felt from the Regional Vice President. One thing is for certain, I witnessed first hand a masterful leader working the room, and making impressionable connections with each employee. The following observations were noted.

  1.  An engaged leader is personable

The Regional V.P. was uniquely personable. As he entered the office he shook our hands, and called us each one of us by name. I couldn’t help but think, “This guy must do his homework before he visits a store. He knows each one of us on a first name basis.” His demeanor was totally non-threatening and genuine, unlike the meetings of the past. He was very personable, which made us feel like real people, and not corporate robots doing and saying the right things.

  1. An engaged leader gives hope

As he continued his conversation with another employee and I, he said, “We are going to grow old together, right?” We said in unison, “Yes, we are!” Immediately, I understood the meaning of this phrase; it is one used by married couples that are recommitting to each other for long period of time. I felt like he was putting us as ease by this comment. I felt secure and confident about the future. Leaders, like him, offer hope and build confidence for the future in a single and sincere sentence. Without hope you get a sense that there is no future to look forward to; only the daily grind of complying with charts and targets. The Regional V.P. simply imparted hope in a single sentence.

  1.  An engaged leader offers coaching

He soon asked, “How is your store’s performance?” So we led him to the break room where our goal board was located with updated metrics showing our activity, performance and profit for the month. After a brief overview by my colleague, he offered some coaching tips of his own. The coaching moment was helpful and pleasantly welcomed and acknowledged. We have not received this type of coaching even from our direct supervisors.

  1.  An engaged leader knows your status

Just before his departure, he asked a few of us about our status for our next level promotion. He went around the room asking and listening to everyone’s response. When he approached me, he asked, “Have you taken the test for General Manager yet? Surprised that he knew my status, I answered in the affirmative. What I could not grasp was his knowledge of my promotion, which was already in the works. I thought, “He is the Regional V.P. – He has got more important things to worry about.” This made me and the team feel that he cared for our professional development and advancement.

  1.  An engaged leader creates synergy

When he left the office, synergy was obviously present. We were all thrilled about his visit. We could not stop talking about what he said and what he was going to do for each one of us. The atmosphere in our office was literally transformed by his presence and concern for our future. After his departure, we then put our hands to work with more enthusiasm.

  1. An engaged leader follows-through

Some of us had some concerns about certain issues that were not being addressed in a timely manner; like our monthly bonus extensions, and promotions. Within a half-hour, after his departure, we were getting calls and emails from our District Managers noting, “We are taking care of that email you sent two weeks ago.” I was simply amazed at the speed of their responses. I have not seen such follow-through in such a short time frame.

Learning from Others

I was so fortunate to witness a leader who was engaged in what he did, and how he did it. The root meaning of the word engage is “to get the attention of” or “to bind oneself” with another as in a pledge. Our Regional Vice President certainly got my attention and respect. I was now interested in committing myself further under his regional leadership. Leaders who engage their employees, like our Regional Vice President, create empowering win-win cultures by lifting the attitudes and morale of front-line workers.

Ten Strategies to Empower #Latino Youth


It’s time for Latino/Hispanics to set aside their “cultural lens” and see life through a different one. The one I am referring to is the “success lens”. I, for one, am personally exhausted hearing the same ‘ol lingo from family, friends and casual conversations at networking events, such as, “That’s how Latinos do it!”, or “Pues, a si somos!”, meaning that there’s a settled way of doing things in our culture. This is cultural pride, and that’s the central core of this issue… cultural pride keeps our community stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. It’s time to put off the old, and put on new thinking.

So what do young Latinos need to know to succeed? I was contemplating this question for awhile on a Saturday afternoon as I watched a game of college football. The following strategic tools emerged before me to empower Latino youth:

1. Seek to be Spiritual – Spirituality should be your top priority since it’s key to awakening your inner person. Many Latinos are stuck in a lifeless religion; we must move away from that mold and seek the truth. Keep in mind that the life you live is the truth you follow.

2. Learn to Master the English language – Learn to write effectively and communicate well. Don’t be shy to take classes that challenge your verbal development such as speech class, debate, and rhetoric. Speech class in college helped me overcome my fears of speaking in front of people. The funny thing was that everyone else in that class had some fear of speaking in front of others, which put me more at ease. I’m so thankful for that class.

3. Find your Passion and Life Mission – You must ponder and answer these questions: Why am I here? What was I created to do? Start by developing a life mission statement, something that will guide you and direct your decision making. Here’s a glimpse at mine:

I was created to help others find their niche and passion in life, and to develop them to display their fullest potential.


My life mission statement is simple yet tells people that I love personal development and helping others find their place in life. Second, your passion is what energizes you to do what you do best each day. When you’re passionate, it’s like there is no difference in days; a Monday is like a Friday because you love what you do. Combined, your “mission” and “passion” are powerful tools for personal engagement, and engaging others.


4. Discover and Cultivate Innate Gifts and Abilities
 – 
You must ask yourself: What are my personal strengths? The Gallup Organization conducted a 25 year study and discovered 34 innate strengths most common in people. The test will reveal your top 5 signature themes. You can take an Online test to discover and develop your personal gifts. Go to this link: http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx . Yes, there is a small cost but its worth the investment.


5. Find Good Mentors – 
A mentor is a catalyst for change in a young person’s life. So find a mentor(s) who will help you think critically, and teach you “how” to think, not “what” to think and believe. Usually, youth pastors make good mentors.


6. Build Your Relational Network Early
 – 
A network can be your school, church and place of employment. Make friends horizontally (your peers and co-workers), and vertically (your teachers, coaches, employers, etc.) When you graduate from High School keep a list of teachers and administrators who made a difference in your life, and stay in touch with them. You’ll never know if you’ll need them in the future to provide you with a reference or open a door. Don’t forget to foster new relationships while managing old ones. Relationships are key to your success!

7. Focus on Developing Your Character – Character is developed over a lifetime of choices, so start early in life; speak well of others, learn to love others, and respect them even if you disagree with them. Ask others, like your mentors, to speak into your life, and to provide critical feedback for change and to periodically check your blind spots.

8. Learn and Practice Generosity – Learn to give your time, talent and personal treasures away to others. Freely you have received, freely give. A generous person never has to worry about the lack of supply. What you sow you shall reap. Generosity is basically living with an opened hand.

9. Never Stop Learning – Some people develop pride and think they “know it all”. Therefore, be a life time learner, read books, leadership journals, magazines, listen to audio tapes of great leaders. Don’t settle for mediocrity but strive for personal excellence. Learn from others, even if they are younger than you. Build a personal culture of a learner.

10. Seek to be Affluent and Influential – When you seek to become affluent (possessing wealth) and influential (impacting others), you won’t have to count on government to take care of you, and you will be able teach others to be self-sufficient. Don’t allow others to make you think wealth is “wicked” or that the “wealthy” are greedy. Those who point to “greed” are full of envy themselves, don’t listen to them. Class warfare causes unnecessary divisions. Wealth is a biblical concept. God meant for you to have money. Godly people like Abraham, King David, King Solomon and countless others were wealthy individuals. God meant for you to have wealth and be influential. However, don’t let the love of money control your life. You must control your desire for the love and pursuit of money since “the love of money of the root of evil.” However, building personal wealth is critical to your viability.

 

Can you add your wisdom to this list?

Are You Having An Emotional Affair?


“A touch creates heat, heat creates a spark, and a spark turns into a fire.”
-Rev. Paul Goulet, Senior Leader ~ International Church of Las Vegas

It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to tell you that you’re having an emotional affair at work. Those who are having one should know better yet they continue in their risky behavior, thinking they can get by undetected and unscathed. According to Gail Saltz:

Emotional cheating (with an “office husband or wife”) steers clear of physical intimacy, but it does involve secrecy, deception, and therefore betrayal. People enmeshed in nonsexual affairs preserve their “deniability,” convincing themselves they don’t have to change anything. That’s where they’re wrong.”[i]

It’s this “deniability” that blinds them, and sooner or later, their clandestine affair is exposed. Emotional affairs are more prevalent in the workplace than you may think. In a study looking at infidelity statistics in the United States, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy revealed 15 percent of wives and 25 percent of husbands engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage. That’s quite alarming by itself, but when emotional affairs are thrown into the equation, the numbers jump by more than 20 percent. In this day and age, it seems no relationship is safe from an affair. Emotional affairs at work tend to make up a large percentage of these numbers, and some research shows over 50 percent of opposite sex, work friendships end up turning into something more. [ii]

I remember sitting in a meeting with a high profile public leader, discussing his embarrassing exposure. The affair started subtly until they were alone and the rest is history. Once exposed it was a BIG disappointment to all involved. An emotional affair starts with a simple wink, then a compliment, an accidental bump in the hallway, and an innuendo here and there. Then all the sudden strong “feelings” take over and an uncontrollable urge and curiosity sets in to experiment further. Boundaries are then tested until it’s too late, you’ve gone over a boundary line. So what actually is an “emotional affair”? An emotional affair is an affair of the heart and mind, where a person sends subtle messages to another conveying a playful purpose yet keeping the relationship secretive in nature. If you want to know you are having an emotional affair at work, take the following assessment:

An Emotional Affair Assessment:

Is it your custom to…

  1. ask a particular person of the opposite sex out to lunch or coffee?

  2. purposefully go “out of your way” to talk to someone of the opposite sex each day?

  3. have closed door meetings with a person of the opposite sex?

  4. share marital problems or details about your marriage to the opposite sex that your spouse would not want others to know?

  5. look forward to seeing a particular person of the opposite sex at work each day?

  6. playfully text or email a particular person of the opposite sex on a regular basis?

  7. use innuendo language with a person of the opposite sex?

  8. be consumed in thought about a particular person of the opposite sex during or after work hours?

  9. inappropriately touch someone of the opposite sex at work by rubbing up against them or hip bumping in the hallway?

  10. write a private message to someone of the opposite sex, whom you happen to work with, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., without your spouse’s knowledge 

– If you answered 2 in the affirmative, you maybe a little misguided or just a big flirt, be careful!

– If you answered between 3 to 4 questions in the affirmative you’re in serious danger or on the boderline of having an emotional affair, and need to reconsider your boundaries before something more serious happens.

– If you answered 5 or more questions in the affirmative, then you are having an emotional affair at work, and need to reassess your behavior; seek counseling or speak with a mentor.

What boundaries can you design (personally or in policy form) to curtail an emotional affair in your workplace? Does your workplace have a code of ethicis in place addressing this type of behavior?

Footnotes:
[i] Could you be having an emotional affair? By Gail Saltz, May 21st, 2009.
[ii] Emotional Cheating Signs – Could These Be Signs Of An Affair? Monday, February 21st, 2011.