Finally…Good Reasons For Valuing Accountability

Earlier this week I joined the monthly Champion’s Edge webinar by Building Champions. One of their executive coaches, Dan Foster, led us through six steps of accountability with the ultimate goal of learning how to harness the power of accountability.

I have to admit, I joined the webinar wondering if I was going to come to the end of the 30 minutes and feel like I had wasted my time. Not because of Dan, he is an exceptionally experienced coach and a pretty smart guy, and I knew he’d share some practical and meaningful thoughts. But, because of the topic.

I mean seriously, when have you ever gotten excited about being told that you need to be more accountable or have more accountability in your life? Accountability has become something of a four-letter word. Take a look at the definition of accountable, “required to explain actions or decisions.” Wow! Isn’t that frightening? Sounds like something you’re super excited to sign-up for, right?!

Well, I spent the 30 minutes listening to what Dan had to say and as I’d hoped, he did not disappoint, and my time was anything but wasted.

He did a great job of articulating the steps of accountability, as taught through the Building Champions methodology, and how it all starts with being accountable to yourself. But, what I love about what he shared, even though he didn’t specifically itemize them or draw special attention to them, was that he gave a really solid argument for why be accountable; why is accountability valuable; what do we stand to gain by being accountable. And, hallelujah, his reasons weren’t the typical cliché ones that I’ve heard my whole life about keeping you honest, or making you trustworthy, or teaching you responsibility. Not that those aren’t important, they are very important; they’re table stakes. But, for once I heard arguments for the value of accountability that actually got me excited to be accountable. Finally, I was given reason to be motivated beyond duty and obligation. Here is what Dan shared, in his words, more or less:
1) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more purposeful.
2) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more intentional.
3) Being accountable to yourself and others provides added motivation.
4) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be challenged and stretched.
5) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be encouraged.
6) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to learn more about yourself and discover your unique purpose and contribution.
7) Being accountable to yourself and others equips you to build your vision for who you want to be and where you want to go.
8) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to live within your sweet spot, thus enabling you to do what Daniel Harkavy says, “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the great.”
9) Being accountable to yourself and others causes you to respect yourself more, believe in yourself more, and be more self-confident.
10)Being accountable to yourself and others shows others that you can be counted on, which increases their respect for you, which increases the likelihood that they’ll catch your vision and follow your lead.

What I love about this is that it becomes the flywheel that Jim Collins describes in Good to Great. You work through the steps of accountability, which you can go and listen to at buildingchampions.com, and as you work through them the momentum starts increasing, your actions are made on purpose, you say no in a way that shows respect for your plan and your intentions, you see others take note, you notice the difference being made, and as Collins says, “The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!…Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort.” It’s not just doing one of the steps that causes all of this value to be created, it is all of the steps. As Collins says, “It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.”

So, accountability that produces purpose, intention, motivation, challenge, discovery, vision, focus, self-respect, self-confidence, influence, action, respect, and accolades?? Sign me up! I’m in!

How about you, what would cause you to value accountability?

Why I Failed To Meet The 31-Day 500-Word Challenge

Last month I joined with a group of over 1,500 people who sought to meet a challenge, issued by author and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins, to write at least 500 words each of the 31 days of January. The first 22 days were a success, and then the 23rd of January arrived, and I didn’t write again for the rest of the month.

I was upset with myself and actually cried about not completing the challenge, which is an unusual response for me. My pride was wounded as I thought about not wanting to be labeled as a quitter or as someone who didn’t finish something she started. I thought about the excuses that I could give for why I didn’t finish and then I thought about ignoring it altogether and not even drawing attention to the fact that I had failed to meet the challenge. But, over the last two weeks I have come face to face with the real reason why I failed and realized that if I don’t share it, that I will not just be failing myself but I will be failing you as well.

In the Old Testament of the Bible we are introduced to Samson, who rules as a judge over Israel for over twenty years. We are told, even before he is conceived, that Samson will be used by God, that his life is committed unto God. Judges 13:24-25 tell us that Samson is blessed by God and that the Spirit of the Lord is moving on his life. Throughout his early adulthood years, we are shown several instances where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson. It becomes clear, at least to us as the reader, that Samson’s strength comes from the Lord, that it is a gift from God to him. It is not until Samson tells Delilah his secret about his hair never having been cut, and she deceives him and has his hair cut and hands him over to the Philistines, that he too learns that his strength was really from the Lord and was not his own.

In not completing the 31-day writing challenge, I was brought face to face with my own strength and its source, just as Samson was. I’m in no way claiming that I have been blessed by God in the way that Samson was, but I have realized that when I tried to write through my own strength, through my own power, that I failed miserably.

During the writing challenge I started by committing each writing session to God and really seeking His direction and guidance as to what to write about. Then, somewhere in the process I started to try and write through my own strength based on my own thoughts, ideas, and observations, and on January 23rd I fell flat on my face. It took about a week for me to even be able to recognize that this was the real reason for my failure. I moved from a place of depending on God for strength and for the words to write, to depending on my own strength and writing based on what I felt like I wanted to write, and that is how I failed. I allowed pride and arrogance to drive me and failed to acknowledge God as my source.

I imagine (and hope) that I’m not the only one who has ever been the cause of her failure; how have you done so in your life?