Who Are You Accountable To?

messages Jun 17, 2009

Are you thinking something like this?

  1. My boss
  2. My bosses' boss
  3. 'The Man'
  4. My significant other
  5. My children
  6. The IRS
  7. Anyone and everyone else that wants a piece of me...

If this was your line of thinking, there is someone missing who is critically important to your success:  YOU.

Many of us are typically so busy getting things done for other people or meeting the obligations of work, performance reviews, and deadlines, we miss the most important person to be accountable to, which is ourselves.

Think about this:  if you can't follow through on the commitments you make to yourself (ie:  exercising, eating better, quality time with family), you've lost personal credibility.  In Stephen M. R. Covey's book "The Speed of Trust", the main focus of the book is to increase trust in the workplace in order to increase speed and decrease costs.  However, my favorite chapter of the book had to do with personal trust.  In the book he talks about the realization that he was setting his alarm clock early every morning to get in a workout before he started his day, and then choosing to sleep instead, which was not in alignment with being personally accountable to himself and others.

"In a 2002 Golin/Harris poll, 'assuming personal responsibility and accountability' was ranked as the second-highest factor in building trust.  Great leaders build trust by first holding themselves accountable and then holding others accountable.  Holding yourself accountable includes taking responsibility for bad results.  It is often our natural response to blame others for failure.  When we fail, we need to look in the mirror."  (From Power Train Book Summary)

Why are a lot of people successful in their careers?  There are a ton of accountability systems in place.  If you're not doing what you're supposed to, you're going to hear about it.  Why do a lot of people struggle with following through on commitments in their personal lives?  Lack of an accountability system is a big piece.  I was recently doing a speaking engagement and we were talking about this when a gentleman spoke up and said "I never break my promises as work, but I almost always break them at home."  Ouch.

We know accountability systems work.  Why don't we use them in our personal lives?  It's a huge oversight and doesn't make sense.  When it comes to the personal, we let Ron do it.  Who?  In other words, "LateR on".  "LateR on" comes from this fantastic article "If Not Now - When?" by CoveyLink.

There are a lot of people looking for the holy grail of how to improve exercise adherence.  There are probably just as many trying to figure out how to make certain eating behaviors stick.  Why not try an accountability system?  I put all my workouts on my calendar.  Years and years and YEARS of working out 4-5 times per week have gone by, but I still write them down.  It keeps me accountable and it keeps me honest.  It's easy for us to convince ourselves we're doing more than we actually are - we're very skilled in denial and rationalizations - and having something on paper doesn't allow for the lies we tell ourselves.

Be creative with your system - maybe it's an accountability partner or you put your personal commitments on the refrigerator door where everyone can see them.   Make it public.  If you make a commitment to yourself and don't follow through with it, nobody knows and you're off the hook, right?  Tell your friends and family and ask them to hold you accountable.  Keep track of whether or not you do them.  Having to look at a blank spot where there shouldn't be one hurts.  As it should.

But again, don't let one missed day derail you.  Remember THERE IS NO WAGON.  There is only today.

Be accountable to yourself.

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