Run a Google search on “accountability” and you get nearly 50 million hits. Glancing at the sites you find references to government accountability, corporate accountability, and accountability for those struggling with various types of addictions. You have to dig pretty deep to find a link to the kind of accountability that I believe is essential to success – personal accountability to action.
Success is rarely accidental. Most individuals who succeed have created specific goals and worked hard to achieve them. They have also done one more thing – they have established meaningful relationships that will hold them accountable for the steps necessary to achieve those goals.
In his book entitled Goals!, Brian Tracy emphasizes the importance of associating with the kind of people who inspire and encourage you to achieve your goals. I would take this one step further. In addition to being surrounded by supportive people, we need one or two who hold us accountable on a regular basis.
Accountability partners are not the smiling friend who pats your hand and tells you everything is going to work out. As nice as that friend might be, what you really need to be successful is someone who will require transparency and honesty, someone who will challenge you to keep moving and striving, someone who will accept nothing less than your best.
Here are a few suggestions for finding and maintaining a relationship with an accountability partner or group:
1. Get clear on who you are and where you are going. Accountability partners can help you determine your purpose and direction, but your time together will be most effective when you have identified specific goals.
2. Look for people with similar drive and passion. Your accountability partners do not need to be working on the same goals but should have the same sense of purpose and determination to be successful.
3. Meet regularly to develop rapport and trust. It takes time to develop trust but selecting individuals you respect and admire will help facilitate this important step.
4. Require honesty and transparency. Committing to confidentiality is essential so that each member can share their experience. You are wasting your time if you are not completely transparent with your accountability partner(s).
5. Be able and willing to give and receive constructive criticism. Accountability partners will challenge you to meet your goals but they can serve another purpose. Accountability partners can be a sounding board and give you honest feedback on the steps you take to achieve those goals.
6. Celebrate successes. It is tempting to achieve a goal and then sit back and rest. Your accountability partner will help you celebrate your success and then go on to achieve even bigger and better goals.
Personal accountability to action works. You can and will achieve your goals!
Lisa Van Allen, MS, PhD is a personal and executive coach with twenty years experience in clinical psychology and healthcare administration. In her forthcoming book, “POWER-Filled Living", Lisa provides a process for finding and fulfilling life's purpose. Excerpts of her book and additional articles on life and leadership can be found at http://www.vanallencoaching.com