Accountability can have a powerful practical value to achieving our goals and or overcoming problems or issues. Being accountable takes a tremendous amount of character, courage and honesty, especially if you seek an accountability partner for a goal you desire to achieve. It is not an easy thing to do (being accountable) or ask for (accountability). Webster’s New Illustrated Dictionary defines
- 1. Liable to be called to account; responsible. 2. Capable for being accounted for or explained.
I like how Webster defined accountability adding the word “responsibility”, being accountable is being responsible. It also has to do with an account, meaning the facts and figures not the excuses and the stories.
Accountability can come in many forms. Without being mentioned it is expected in situations like your job or your family. These are your responsibilities, things in which you are expected to be accountable for like showing up on time, fulfilling your job description or being faithful to your spouse. Where it is most powerful is when it comes from commitments we have made either with ourselves, someone else or an organization. Written goals can be a valuable source of personal accountability. That’s part of why proper goal setting is so powerful. When you have clearly identified the goal, created a plan and made commitment for its achievement that puts a sense of responsibility on yourself and if you don’t do the things you have planned then you violate your own integrity. This can cause guilt and depression which motivates us to achieving our goals. That’s why you will never meet someone who is in the process of achieving goals that is depressed. I tell you we don’t need Prozac, we need goals and accountability.
If you are having difficulty achieving goals it is often a good idea to seek an accountability partner. Someone you can trust and respect. An accountability partner is someone that you can confide in with your struggles, weaknesses and insecurities as it relates to the goals and growth we intend to achieve. You must respect and choose this person wisely. First and foremost an accountability partner is a friend not a mother or a nag and certainly not someone who is going to feel sorry for you and join in any pity parties. He or she is not someone you share all your excuses with why you didn’t do what you said you were going to do. They are not someone you dump on or will necessarily give you any advice. That’s a counselor.
He or she is someone you are serious with. Someone you can trust not to tell others about the things you discuss or the goals you have. They are someone that you have given the right to ask you how you are doing in relation to your goals or struggles you are trying to overcome or achieve. Hopefully they will even challenge you why you are doing what you are doing causing you to ponder your real motive. They may ask how you are spending your time or your money in relation to the goals you are asking accountability for and you should give them straight and honest answers. If you cannot be straight and honest then you are probably not willing to be accountable yet or perhaps don’t quite understand how to best use them.
Questions I may ask and expect straight answers to, not excuses or beating around the bush:
- What exactly are your goals? Can you show me them in print or in tangible plans?
- What exactly are you doing to achieve them and can you demonstrate that? Can you show me books read, classes took, money spent, connections made, commitments and decisions made, etc…
- How do you spent your time? Show me your days or last week’s schedule on exactly how you used your time.
- Why do you have that goal or this goal?
- Why do you think this is valuable to do?
- Why are you doing this or that?
- Who do you model and what do you know about them?
You can see this line of questioning asks the who, why, what, where, when questions. The part of accountability I tend to lean more on is the why questions. To quote Wilhelm Nietzsche:
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”
Once the why is clear then it simply a matter of the plan to achieve the goal and keeping on that track making necessary adjustments along the way. Whatever your goals are I wish you the confidence and the courage to dream a big dream, plan a serious plan and be accountable and responsible in your growth and development.