The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines accountability as subject to giving an account; answerable. We are not strangers to accountability. In our youth, we were accountable to our teachers, our parents and other authority figures. As adults, we are accountable to our bosses and supervisors, maybe spouses. In most instances, our accountability is involuntary – a relationship forced upon us which we grudgingly accept. Many times, the relationship leaves such bad taste in our mouths that hearing the word “accountability” makes us break out in a cold sweat.
We are all adults now and it’s time to do a paradigm shift, to learn a new way of viewing accountability, to see it as a good thing. Why? Because accountability benefits your personal growth in several ways:
1. It keeps you focused. Unexpected situations and events come along which require your immediate, and sometimes long-term, time and attention. That’s life. Accountability helps to get you back on track.
2. It produces long-lasting big results. Contrary to what you may think, most long-lasting results in life don’t come in one fell swoop. They come from taking a lot of little steps, one day at a time. Accountability helps you to keep taking the little steps.
3. It enhances you. Accountability helps to make you a more disciplined person, and, in the process, builds your character. It will also help you be a person of integrity – a person who “walks the talk”. When you “walk the talk”, not only do others trust you more, but you also trust yourself more. You may also find accountability will help to pull you out of your comfort zone, and it’s well-known that everything we are looking for is outside our of comfort zones.
Okay, now that you have a new view of accountability, how do you do it? Get an accountability partner to walk with you. The characteristics of a good partner are:
1. Reliable, honest and trustworthy. You want a person who will be there as planned and who will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear. You want your partner to be someone you trust because you will be sharing information about yourself (some may be personal) and you want to be comfortable with that person.
2. Wants the best for you. You want a person who genuinely wants the best for you because that person will gladly help you to improve. You want to make sure your partner doesn’t have a secret agenda to sabotage you.
3. Gives feedback. Your accountability partner must be comfortable giving you feedback, positive and negative. The feedback should include suggestions designed to help you get better. You may not always be comfortable with the feedback and some tension may arise. This is one of the reasons why trusting your accountability partner is crucial. Your role is to accept the feedback for what it is designed to do – grow you into a better person today than you were yesterday.
4. Mutual accountability. Marshall Goldsmith in his book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” says mutual accountability creates parity, or equality, and may create a bond between you and your accountability partner. Neither of you will feel “less than” and both of you are helping each other improve.
5. Your partner shouldn’t be your best “buddy”. You don’t want a partner who will sympathize with you and enable you in making lame excuses for not getting things done. As a general rule, your spouse shouldn’t be your accountability partner unless the two of you have a joint goal (ex. weight loss, saving money to purchase a home) or your spouse fully supports your goal.
In addition to your accountability partner, you must be accountable to yourself. Take responsibility for your actions and inactions, for your choices in life. Don’t blame others or your circumstances. From time to time, do an assessment to see if you need to make adjustments so that your choices and actions better your life. However, always remember, long-lasting results take time and it’s usually longer than you think.
I’m easily distracted and need to be held accountable. Right now, I am writing a book based on this blog; I have a June deadline for its completion. At the same time, I write new posts for this blog, manage another blog which I also write for (anointedwomeninchrist.wordpress.com), run a business and spend time having fun. I have an accountability partner, an author herself, who keeps me on track with my book. We agreed that she would contact me at random at least twice a week to discuss my progress. Since I’m not sure when she will call me, I find I do something book related just about everyday. Yes, I have an accountability partner for my business; in fact, I have two. Maybe I should get a partner for spending time having fun too!
Our new paradigm for accountability: Everyone is accountable to someone and accountability does a body good!
Question for Comment: Do you have an accountability partner? If not, did this article change your view about having one?