What Accountability Means

Mar 25, 2021

What Accountability means to me is the ability to sleep soundly, knowing I've done everything I could to honour my commitments. And it all started with honouring the commitments I made to myself. 

""When I fail to go after what I want, I am never going to have it. When I fail to ask, the answer is always no. When I fail to step forward, I’m always in the same place."

- Author, Nora Roberts

 What does Accountability mean to you?

This is not a trick question. I want you to consider it from an emotional perspective. What feelings rise up inside you when you read the word Accountability? Your response may have a wider impact than you imagine. People who shy away from accountability have the potential to feel some of these emotions too;

  • Anxiety - fearing they will let others down or they won't deliver
  • Frustration - recognising the opportunities they pass over
  • Resignation - minimising the impact of not rising to a challenge.

Not everyone will feel these emotions, but they are do emerge frequently amongst those who doubt their own capability.

Alternatively, people who have a strong positive emotional response to the word Accountability often feel these emotions:

  • Confidence - knowing they will give their best
  • Energised - excited to get started
  • Calm - recognising not every attempt will result in a win, but that is okay.

Obviously, it's not always as clear cut as this, there are plenty of nuances to recognise. But, building a positive relationship with the notion of Accountability clearly has plenty of benefits for our mental health as well as our self esteem.

This week's video was genuinely delivered from a strong sense of personal Accountability. Having had my first Covid jab over the weekend, I was feeling a bit lethargic and the thought of raising my energy to deliver the video on time was a real challenge. However, there were three levers I was able to pull on to get me in front of the camera:

  1. I enjoy doing this stuff.
  2. My technical genius needed the video done by the deadline so he could comfortably do everything else on his list before embarking on a trip from Home in the UK to his new Home in Asia.
  3. I feel committed to you, my loyal follower. I know you couldn't possibly make it to the end of the week without my regular ideas, insights and inspiration!?!?!? (Hmmm, maybe you could, let's not dwell on this one.) 🤣

Building the Accountability Muscle

Do you like looking in the mirror? If you do, you're going to like this one.

You see, Accountability is an externally driven thing. We are held to account. We are asked to do something and then held to account for what we deliver.

Responsibility on the other hand is internally driven. Usually, if we are responsible, there's no-one else to turn to if it doesn't happen. As a result, organisations usually pay more for roles that involve more responsibility.

What this means for us is that, if we are to build our Accountability Muscle, we need to find a way of involving someone else to hold us to account. Quite often, when people have resolved to get better at this, they want to start small with micro commitments and build it up from there. So here is where the mirror can come in handy.

Here's a quick 5-Step process to change what accountability means for you if you currently take a backwards step and get sweaty palms whenever work is being distributed.

  1. Choose a micro commitment you are willing to make to yourself
  2. Stare at the person you see in the mirror and share your commitment with them
  3. Resist the temptation to laugh and break the sense of real intention!
  4. Return to the mirror often and restate your commitment if needed
  5. When it's done, thank the person in the mirror for their support and smile

It sounds simple. It may even sound silly if this is the first time you've ever encountered this process. But it works.

Practice this for a series of micro-commitments and feel your confidence grow. Pretty soon you'll wonder why you're asking your new reflective friend to get involved in the first place.

You'll have a quiet assurance that it's a done deal as soon as you commit to something.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Ready for a bigger Challenge? Sign up for the L4 Framework and see just how far you can take this thinking.



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