10/07/2014 05:14 EDT | Updated 12/07/2014 05:59 EST

Why Accountability Is Important and How To Get It

I've met with hundreds of people who have the same problem as you...and me. Accountability.

It is fair to say I have an on-again off-again thing going with a very important part of maintaining success.

Always a fan of truth telling, I tell you this: Accountability has been both my best friend and mortal enemy off and on all of my life. One month we do great things together, the next month I avoid it like it's got a bad case of something catching.

It is fair to assume that most of the reason I experienced scholastic failure so often until I was about 26 years old was as a result of my high tolerance for last minute performance (also known as propensity to procrastinate) mixed with my lack of interest in holding myself accountable.

I pause to note a very, very, very important (can't emphasize this enough) point... if you are reading this because you struggle with other's accountability not to worry -- the same fundamental principles apply to all accountability. I've been on both sides, intimately. Whether it is your own or someone else's, it is all the same beast.

In the interest of brevity (and so as not to use the joy I get in writing to you as any excuse to not hold myself accountable for the work I am responsible to produce for the next awesome thing to come to my website soon)... here are the top 3 reasons people (including me) do not rise to the accountability challenge, followed by 3 ways we can change it.

Why one might not hold themselves accountable:

(1) You really never wanted to do that thing in the first place but now you feel like you have to, so you are avoiding it by hiding out and not showing up to do the work, avoiding any notion of responsibility.

(2) The outcome no longer benefits you so completing the task(s) no longer has personal or professional merit, so why rise to the occasion?

(3) Fear & Short term difficulty -- pure and simple. What you are afraid of will have to be determined by you.

Here is what one can do to avoid accountability issues:

(1) Communicate clearly why the thing needs to get done and align it with a true want. For example, you need to blog every day because you truly want to improve you're writing and only practice will do it.

(2) Make the risk and reward related so the outcome clearly benefits you or your business but balance it with a real risk. For example, you want to run 5 kilometres. The reward will be in your health and the satisfaction of completing a physical goal. Balance this with the torture of having a to run 5 km with a fit friend as your running partner because you signed up for the same race as her. There must be an opposing negative in proportion to the positive in order to propel those prone to accountability issues to maintain their accountability commitment.

(3) Recognize this statement as true: nothing good ever comes of not holding yourself or someone else accountable and in fact, not doing so gives permission for the behaviour to continue. An example, if I have an employee who shows up to work 5 minutes late every day and I do not hold him accountable well then, I have granted him permission to be late every day by 5 minutes. The permission slip - write one up and see how you feel...hand it to the employee... because that is basically what you are doing. I know, pretty hard, but true... I've let things slide to the detriment of my business and other staff and have learned my lesson. Whenever I am in doubt I ask myself if I would write myself a permission slip for the action and give it to them. If not, i address it.

Finally, when dealing with myself, if I am 'off again' with accountability (which admittedly does not happen a lot anymore but still creeps up on me...human as I am) I calculate what I would have to pay someone an hour to do the work I am avoiding or not holding myself accountable for doing. Then I ask myself if I would pay someone that amount of money to surf Facebook, chat on the phone with their best friend, spend an extra 5 minutes grabbing a coffee on their way into work.....whatever it is that I am doing to avoid keeping myself on track to maintain what it is I am accountable for. Usually I have to remind myself that if anyone else were wasting my money or time and not holding themselves accountable to the same level, I would fire them. Having to fire oneself is enough for me to start showing up in full again. Works every time.

I would love to hear about how you hold yourself and those around you accountable or a situation you are facing where accountability has reared its ugly head. Use any of the contact methods below to let me know -- connect with me, one of the best parts of my work is connoting with Barefooters around the world about issues we all face... and connecting authentically with truth. No matter where we are on our entrepreneurial journey, we all face the same things, it is only the magnitude of relativity which changes as we grow...


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