My friend asked me to write something about accountability. He said we should be accountable for ourselves and what we do. This is a very simple and concise explanation of Accountability. It is easier to have somebody else hold us accountable. The hard part is personal accountability meaning, like my friend said, we should be accountable for ourselves. HOW?
These are some suggestions that I’ve come up from my personal experience and work:
To hold ourselves accountable, first, we must be clear about the end result, meaning “Why we are doing this?”. I remember one of my clients came to me with a very strong desire to open up his own business. He told me he wanted to learn how to hold himself accountable through the whole process. He is a guy with tons of ideas, which is an excellent trait for an entrepreneur. I felt so happy for him. When we started to talk about his business plan, he got excited. I was excited too. However, after 30 minutes of non-stop talking touching almost every aspect in the market, I guess he felt tired; he stopped, looking at me a little confused. “Why am I doing this?” I followed up with a question, “Suppose you know why you are doing this, what difference will that make for you?” He thought for a moment and started to mention the self-realization, contribution of his strength, financial freedom and self-confidence. This time, he spoke a lot more slowly and I can feel the sincerity in his talk. After a couple of more following-up questions, he finally realized, all of a sudden, that all the freedom he wants is because he doesn’t want to be alone any more. He wanted to keep the companion. What a turning point! At the end, he said something that convinced me he was ready to be on his own right there right then and he will accomplish both in his business and in his relationship. He said, “I can see what I will be doing in 5 years time. After our meeting, I will have a really good talk with my girlfriend, telling her the reason why I will be doing this is to have a future with her. I want her to trust me that I am a good partner, but if I spend more time on the business than on her, I want her to understand that’s because I am building our future.” What a sweet spirit! Love can conquer all. I believe this is the most desirable “WHY” that will keep him on his path in the years to come. When we are clear about the “Why”, we always know the “How”, which is the first step of personal accountability.
Think about this – “Sporadic bursts of feverish effort, interspersed with months of inaction, are unlikely to net you a finished novel or a functioning small business by the end of the year. ” If it makes sense to you, congratulations, you have come to the second step in personal accountability, being consistent. We need momentum (or energy) to keep us going on the path to create wealth, maintain health and nourish relationship. Consistency is the only effective way to generate the momentum on our path to success.
Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most successful comedians of all‐time. He is regarded as one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All–Time” by Comedy Central. According to Forbes magazine, Seinfeld reached his peak in earnings when he made $267 million dollars in 1998. He achieved the remarkable consistency by performing, creating, entertaining at an incredibly high standard, show after show, year after year. This is what a young comedian shared what Jerry Seinfeld told him when he asked about “any tips for young comic”:
He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.
“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”
See? It boils down to a simple “not break the chain”. When you fill up your wall calendar with those big red X’s, you are already a person with high accountability. Isn’t that easy?
The final step in personal accountability is delivery of results no matter how small. If it turns out to be workable, do more; however, if we don’t see what we want, do something different, because we understand the WHY so clear that we know HOW to navigate our path and get where we want. By delivering the results, we maintain the power to control our lives. We weed out the excuses of not doing for fear of failure. The biggest enemy to personal accountability is avoidance.
Suppose we don’t avoid taking the small steps, because they are too small comparing to our goals, we will work on the small steps as diligently as we work on the big vision. When we regard the small steps as valuable as a big achievement, we are on a path to create success all along the way.
Suppose we don’t avoid listening to constructive criticism, because they are not appealing to our ears, we will be able to get different views of what we are doing. We are emptying our cups so that it can hold more constructive and productive ideas that we may consider on our way to accomplishment.
Suppose we don’t avoid keeping up with our time blocking schedule, because there are other things we have to deal with, we will feel more fulfilled after we fill up that time block as scheduled. In the meantime, we are informing other people that our time is valuable and we are teaching them to respect our time.
Suppose we don’t avoid talking about delivery of results, because we have been busy working all the time, we will be able to figure out what we can do to spend our time more effectively and productively, rather than jumping from one thing to another. We will only be able to know if what we are doing is right or wrong by looking at the results. Then we can decide whether to do more or do something different.
Carrying out our plan or schedule won’t be hard if we are able to see the progress. Progress is a series of results that we deliver using trial and learn on our way to any success.
Being clear about the WHY will motivate us to take consistent actions. The consistent action will create the results we can measure. This is the ecosystem of personal accountability.
To your success.