Article Learn solid, research-proven strategies for defining and implementing accountability in your life. 0 2014 Life coaching Performance coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub

What Is Accountability

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What is Accountability

I constantly hear people talking about holding themselves and others accountable, but what does this really mean?

I'm sure you've seen the groups out there you can join to create more accountability in your life. What about at work, have you heard your boss tell you that everyone is going to be held more accountable?

I believe that the intention of being accountable has been distorted and short circuited over time.


The Traditional Method Of Accountability

I. Typically, whether it's at work or in your personal life, Accountability equates to following up on a task or activity.

That is it, kind of like how your parents treated you as a kid. 

If you don't do what they want there will be a punishment, if you do what they want there is a reward.

This negative and positive reinforcement system only works for a short time, it's great if you are just starting to install the drive to start down a new path.

But, this system isn't sustainable over the long term.

II. You're on your own

There are awesome coaches out there, but their time is so packed helping others, teaching them about their topic and how to improve in specialized areas that none of them truly specialize in Accountability.

What ends up happening is that they leave it up to you, putting you into their accountability group, or having you build your own team to keep you Accountable.

Personally, I disagree with this method. You can teach someone to fish and we are all responsible for our actions, but at the end of the day if we aren't reinforcing your core behaviors and routines we all fall back into what is most comfortable to us.

My experience with peer groups is that they are only as strong as the least motivated member, the one that bails after one or two meetings, once that first person leaves, it's easier for the remaining members to justify dropping out.  All of a sudden it's an accountability group of one.

Another concern with peer groups is that everyone is more focused on their work, their improvement.  This isn't a negative, it's human behavior.  Unless your team members have a vested interest in your success, they really don't give you 100% all the time.

Typically, in most accountability groups, there is one point person that puts everyone's objectives and actions they will take into a spread sheet or document and then contact each person on the pre-determined interval.  They check in to make sure you are doing the stated actions and what results you are achieving.

Here's where I think the process of Accountability has gone off the rails.  When you start becoming more accountable for the results in your life, you are in a state where there is constant experimentation, iteration and pivoting to see what really works for you and what doesn't. 

Until you build a massive database of experiences, you're going through this massive period of trial and error. Once you have this database inside you, only then can you effectively and rapidly transform the results you are getting by doing what has worked in the past by tweaking it slightly

III. Here is where my methods differ.

Experimentation and Rapid Prototyping.

Sounds fancy, huh?  Not really, my background in Engineering and Operations has allowed me to develop these concepts and apply them to creating my personal system of Accountability.  Through these two processes I've discovered that once I have my plans all laid out with the associated actions I am going to take to achieve the objective, the plan immediately changes.

The question is, what do you do with all this incoming information that wreaks havoc on your plan?

You Pivot and Iterate through conditional strategies.

IV. The Critical Problem I Find With Typical Accountability Systems

Staying power, sure you get amped up and motivated for a week or two when you undertake something new, but after that it becomes another habit or routine that you have to spend your mental power on to maintain.

We already have enough going on in our lives.  Through Accountability we are trying to eliminate as much as possible that doesn't move us to our desired objectives, we don't want to go ahead and add another checklist or to-do list.  

We are now becoming action and results orientated people, it is imperative that we know consciously where our time, energy and focus is going to be placed each day and stick to the plan.

Without the intention of clearing up your life to work on only the activities that will improve your life, you become a systems and process hoarder.  This hoarding eliminates any chance you have of owning your results.

Don't let owning your outcomes become like your New Years resolutions, something that is great for a week but then you forget about it. 

A New System To Create Accountability In Your Life

I want to introduce you to my process for achieving the results I am committed to in my life on a daily basis.

1) Outcome Statement

This is the most critical part of the system, even if you decide not to do any of the other steps outlined here, do this one.

Once you state clearly and specifically what your intended outcome will be, your brain takes over and starts finding ways to make it happen, even if you take no other conscious steps towards it.  Your brain acts like your own personal navigator pushing you in the direction you want to travel.

2) Actionable Strategy

It's time to brainstorm and think of what you can undertake to move you towards your objective.  I like to break this up into three categories:

  1. Those actions I know that are in my life right now or I can easily implement them into my routines.
  2. Those actions that are a bit of a stretch, but I would like to experiment and see what it feels like.
  3. Those actions that would take tremendous effort  and alter my life considerably.

Create a bit of a mind map or diagram and start putting them into these categories.  Keep this list handy as we'll start working in each area in the next step.

3) Be Methodical Implementing Your Strategy

Now that we have our list, we can start to try these activities.  I want you to pick one from each list to try right now (one easy, one moderate and one challenging).

Focus on the fundamentals first, quality over quantity.  Make sure when you are taking action that you are also taking the time to record:

  • how the activity makes you feel?
  • do you like doing this activity?
  • do you feel like this activity is helping you or hindering you?

Start building your data sets of experience so that in the future when you start working on creating more Accountability in your life you have a ready source of ideas and experiences.

Note: I've noticed that in today's society, we tend to want to jump right to the end result. Sure, quick wins are fantastic, but without understanding how you internally work, what feels good to you, what you learn over time how best to optimize your time, energy and focus.  You end up re-creating the wheel each time you take one more step towards accepting all the results in your life.  So, slow down, learn, experiment and record.

4) Monitor Your Results

You've stated what you want your outcome to be.  Now, each day, each action is that moving you closer to your objective or pushing you farther away?

Each action should take no more than a few days to determine if it is keeping you focused and moving towards your objective, or pulling you back into routines and habits that you started with.

At the end of every day go ahead and record what is working for you and what isn't working, what changes do you need to make tomorrow, what will you remove and what will you put in its place.

This is where that list we create comes into play, instead of having to think on the fly, you already have a list of ideas that you want to undertake and implement.

Once you've found a set of actions that move you forward and allow you to achieve the results in becoming more Accountable in your life, go ahead and stick with them.

Congratulations, you've just removed something in your life that you thought was important and critical and replaced it with something that allows you to accept the results you are receiving.

My Final Closing Note

What I am sharing with you is a collection of processes, systems and strategies that I have tested and refined over the last twenty years with both my individual and corporate clients to create their personalized Accountability System.

I'm excited to be starting on this path with you and would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to learn.

Everything that I am sharing has allowed me to live an extraordinary life, but the first step is owning the results you are receiving right now.

Join me on this mission and let's work together.  Let's start putting your time, energy and focus where it will make the most impact in your life.

Yours In Accountability

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