Adding the often-overlooked element of accountability to establishing goals and action steps, the possibility of achieving meaningful goals increases exponentially.

Accountability is essential, but it can make us uncomfortable. We are often more comfortable having others tell us what we want to hear rather than the truth. But without accountability, we can become stagnant, ineffective and complacent.

When we embrace accountability, we–and our work, family and community teams–can achieve high levels of success and fulfillment.

Our sports heroes, celebrities and leaders put accountability in their favor.

Think of a leader in your field:

  • Do they have a strong vision of their desired future?
  • Have they set meaningful goals?
  • Do they have a coach, mentor or trusted partner who holds them accountable for taking small steps to improve?

Experiencing small measures of success creates the inspiration needed to stay true to the process and continue moving forward. When there is a setback, the coach or trusted partner provides constructive feedback.

Getting Started, and Staying the Course Until Small Successes are Achieved

To begin the process of embracing accountability, think about who could be your coach, mentor or trusted partner, ask if they are willing, and give them permission to hold you accountable.

If you are in a leadership role, connect authentically with direct reports and create an environment where they can feel comfortable giving you honest feedback.

It can take time to see those small successes that provide the inspiration to continue. But stay the course and you will eventually see results.

An Example from Sports

As a high school and college basketball player, I realized the importance of coaches who placed me in environments where I felt stretched, and provided candid feedback.

  • My coaches were experts at the game, and knew how to maximize their players’ efforts and potential
  • Some were low-key and relaxed, others were bold and assertive
  • They all provided feedback, and encouraged me to practice until I got it right
  • In addition to the coaches, we players were quick to encourage each other and hold each other accountable

I did not know at the time, but I was learning life skills, not just skills related to basketball.

What Makes a Good Accountability Partner?

A good accountability partner will share unbiased thoughts, and have an understanding of what you are experiencing.

In addition:

  1. they care,
  2. they are willing to be honest,
  3. they want to partner with you on your journey and
  4. they demonstrate empathy and have your best interests at heart

A structured Accountability Group of trusted peers in a similar situation to yours can work well. It can provide a non-competitive environment where, over time, you come to feel safe being authentic, vulnerable and transparent.

I was a part of such a group for four years: a weekly Men’s Accountability Group. During that time, we all experienced loss and challenges in our lives. But I grew leaps and bounds as a husband, father, employee, leader and family member over the four years. It was one of the best time investments I ever made.

Breaking the Barrier of Time

Time often seems like a barrier preventing the self-reflection accountability requires. If you do not have accountability in the important areas of your life, it would be in your best interest to get it.

Investing in someone–even temporarily–to coach, advise or teach you could be transformational.

As a coach and financial planner, I have seen this happen time after time. With an accountability partner, people accomplish goals and reach levels beyond what they could on their own.

You can do the same.

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