In BED with accountability

In BED with accountability – how being above the line makes you happier and more effective


I had to tell one of my colleagues to get out of BED the other day.

When you finish reading you’ll probably realise that some of your people need to get out of bed too.

ORA BED is a term we use in our business to remind people how to be assertive and take control of their destiny. You read it down the page, like this:










If our behaviour is above the line we are being assertive, own our futures and probably feel free and have peace of mind. It also makes us fairly easy to work with, and people who get things done.

If our behaviour is below the line, we are behaving like victims – the kind of person that things happen to. We become trapped by blame, denial and excuses, and give up control. And that’s when we feel powerless and become resentful or angry. It makes us aggressive, passive aggressive, or passive. Above all, it makes us miserable!

Here’s how to spot the negative behaviours.

  • If your team members often start sentences with “You...”, think someone else caused the problem or are too upset to talk to the person who needs to be aware of the situation then they are probably blaming. But finding fault doesn’t solve the problem, if we make someone else guilty for our failures then we lose power as leaders. Blame paralyses leadership and creates martyrs. Blame makes us passive.
  • If they start sentences with, “But…”, keep saying “…because…” or embellish the story into a beautiful LIE that everyone gets behind, then you’re accepting excuses.
  • If they ignore the problem – pretend it’s not happening – or are surprised when things go wrong, then they’re probably not facing reality or seeing ‘what is’ and are in denial. The problem with denial is that we end up fighting for our limitations – for our right to fail – rather than fighting for success. They will try to make others look bad (to make themselves feel safe) then seek support for their view – and will win unless you, or someone else, interrupts them. This is passive aggressive.


Do any of these situations sound familiar? Someone needs to get out of BED and climb above the line. And that’s what we say when we encounter this in the office: “You’re in BED”, or “You’re below the line”.

As Jim Edwards says,

“You’re only a victim once. Every other time you’re a willing participant.”

Once we move above the line, what has come before isn’t important. This is what happens:

  • We take ownership of ourselves and our actions – giving us the power to resolve the issue that we’re dealing with – and allowing us to demonstrate responsibility through our actions. We live in the present and can see our impact on the world around us. We behave assertively.
  • By taking responsibility for the present we can impact the future and can respond quickly and powerfully in any situation. We become assertive.
  • We become accountable for our actions. We, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, become the change we want to see in the world. We are assertive.

I’ll leave you with this statement to think about – it’s one that we ask our online students to repeat to themselves every day for 60 days after they do the ORA BED lesson:

“If I am willing to be responsible for the smallest atom in the farthest reaches of our galaxy, then what I do here and now will be different.”

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