Counting on Accountability...

Let's take a moment to talk about accountability. Now, as a coach, I work incredibly well in the roll of accountability partner with my clients. I help them identify their goals, create a plan of action, and assist in their journey to success. All along the way, I hold them accountable; not to me, but rather, themselves. I don't grade or judge or malign a client if they don't meet their goals; after all, they're not letting me down -- only the person they see in the mirror. This is where the irony comes in, because I've actually been pretty terrible throughout my life at keeping myself accountable.

One of the main reasons my clients seek me out to work with is because they are looking for a partner who will help them gain insight, set direction, and assist in keeping them on-track. And as I said it before, I'm really good at doing so. Like any person, though, I'm susceptible to the, "doesn't always practice what they preach" syndrome. Helping others comes natural, and I find it very easy to slip into the role of accountability partner with my clients (or friends/family, for that matter...). There's just something about holding yourself accountable that most of us fall prey to.

Often, the root cause boils down to impulse control. Left unchecked by outside forces, we have a real skill at arguing ourselves out of doing almost anything. Too often for my liking, I'll come up with a myriad of excuses or other "projects" (read, finding myself down an internet wormhole of articles) that somehow take precedence over what I actually need to get done. One would think that we, ourselves, would be the best and final line of defense in keeping our impulses from running wild. You and I are both wrong about that -- at least under these circumstances, and without the proper amount of self-growth and discipline.

I, like the majority of us, have a strong desire to please others; your reasons for it may vary from mine, but inevitably, we've got some attachment to this feeling. That same desire doesn't come into play nearly as strongly when we end up letting ourselves down. It's a tendency akin to negative self-talk: we hold ourselves in much lower regard than we hold others, so it's acceptable to put/let ourselves down, but not others. It's a masochistic trait, to be sure, but one that most of us possess. Knowing that I abhor the notion of letting others down -- yet will find any number of ways to let myself down -- has led me to seek out accountability partners. Coaches, family, and friends who I open up to, and encourage to check in with me, in order to keep me on track.

I mentioned growth and discipline above, because being able to hold ourselves accountable is a skill that can be learned, fostered, and expanded. With more awareness, and dedicated attention to the choices you and I make, we can become much better at it. Though, I don't know if I'd ever want to feel as though I've "grown out of" the need for accountability partners in my life. I love that others push me to be more than I am, and look forward to hearing their voices when self-doubt creeps in. I read somewhere (probably during one of those "projects" I was working on...) that if you can accomplish your goals on your own, then they probably aren't big enough. That very much rings true with the concept of accountability and accountability partners, because bringing others along on our success journey is so much more rewarding than doing it solo. I'm going to continue to grow and become better at holding myself accountable, but I'm also going to keep setting big goals -- ones that require a little outside accountability -- and really push myself to see how high I can fly. I sure hope you do, too!