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2007-07-18 15:12:00

Accountability and the Impeccability of Your Word

As a coach, one of the most common reasons people hire me is for what they describe as accountability. Webster's describes accountability as "an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions."

This definition points up where the problem sometimes lies: when one feels obligated, rarely is there passion and an excitement to take the actions. It falls to self-discipline. Now, I don't know about you, but there is a definite residual of defiance from the 60s and 70s that cringes at the thought of discipline.

Fortunately, I have found that I take action when I am truly motivated, when goals are congruent with my vision. I have found this is the case with most of my clients, as well.
This is the step often missing in goal setting.

So, right now, take a look at your goals for this year and do an assessment of whether they are the RIGHT Goals:

  • How are you doing?
  • Do you know :>)? (This means do you have a tracking system in place you refer to at least monthly) 
  • Are you taking the actions you know will reach the goal?
  • Was your assessment of what it would take accurate?
  • Are you REALLY committed to the goal? (Or is it someone else's or one you think you SHOULD do?)
  • What skill do you need to hone to get better or to take more action (practicing a script or just creating one, perhaps?
  • Are your goals visible? Do you look at them and think about them EVERY day?
  • Are you having fun?

If you do this piece first, you will then be ready to look at how you are going to stay on track. I don't want you to get the impression I don't think accountability is a good thing. I do. I believe, though, that it should be in place to support you, not be a big stick to make you feel ashamed or incompetent. After all, self-confidence is an important component in success. You will achieve what you believe you can. If you have a little voice that is reminding you that you never make the calls or take the actions you said you would, you don't feel very good about yourself, do you? Do the goal with accountability is for it to be something that helps you keep the goal alive and pulls you into doing your best.

What Accountability Do You Need?
So, you've reviewed your goals, re-committed to them, identified if there is some skill building needed. Now what? Get a partner! Just as we all know or have heard that two heads are better than one ... the simple principle of Mastermind is powerful in keeping you focused and in action. An accountability partner can come in many flavors:

  • Plain Vanilla may be an office mate that also is committed to excellence.
  • Chocolate may be your office manager or team leader.
  • Banana Split may be a mastermind group of 4-6 people.
  • Chocolate Molten Lava Cake may be a professional coach.

The important thing is to eat ice cream and have fun with it. I believe a coach's job is to see you bigger than you see yourself. To help you stretch so you are very proud of your accomplishments. To be your cheerleader. To  point out flaws in your game plan. When you are at the top of your game, you have fun and that law of attraction kicks in. There is less efforting and more ease. This is the state that will let you accomplish LOTS with the least struggle. The who you are being (self-confidence, passion, etc.) is actually more important than what you are doing.
That said, you can't sit around and say "OHM" and wish business to come (at least I haven't found anyone who has done this successfully!). With your partner, make a weekly promise. If you are doing this with a colleague, your promises should be individual, but challenge each other to play big!
Then set a time to talk weekly and first communicate on the results of the week. 

  • Did you do what you said you would?
  • What showed up you didn't expect?
  • What results did you achieve?
  • What worked and what didn't?
  • What do you need to put in place this week that will handle what didn't work?

Don't make promises with clear criteria of satisfaction and time frames. Like goals that contain the word "more". Define what you mean, if possible by measurable targets.

The Most Important Secret Weapon
One of the reasons having an accountability partner works is because we sleaze out on promises to ourselves when we would NEVER EVER not keep our word to a client or other obligation. I think because nobody else knows we made that promise and we won't "look bad" (at least to the outside world-because we definitely know we look bad to ourselves!), we fudge on our own promises. Circumstances come up and we justify. Or some days we are just not committed and we don't acknowledge that. Listen, if you think about the people around you that don't keep their word consistently -- even if it is just in they are always five minutes late. Let me ask you, do you trust them? You probably don't. They may be nice. You may like them, but you don't trust that if they say something it WILL happen.

Now think about what you do to yourself when you say you are going to make 10 warm calls each day and when the time comes to do it, you find something else to distract you. If you told a client you'd be someplace and do something, you would. But you look at your schedule for the day and decide you don't need to do that thing that you know is IMPORTANT. It isn't urgent and so we decide it can be done later. If you do this on a regular basis, you start to NOT TRUST YOURSELF!!!!

If you want to be the best you can, you need self-confidence and one of the easiest and best ways to do that is to be IMPECCABLE with your word. Do everything you say you will. Now, things do happen (It was a jolt to learn I wasn't in control of the Universe, but, quite frankly, accepting that I am not is a lot less stressful than it used to be). When things happen that make it impossible for you to do what you promised, you need to communicate and re-promise. This applies whether to another or to yourself. Immediately, go to plan B. Don't just say, "Oh, well ... that wasn't that important." or "I can do it later." 

Here is a challenge. For the next week. Keep your word to yourself IMPECCABLY. Do everything you intend to do, no matter what. Know that doing this for a week, will start a new habit in place that will raise the standard you have, little by little. It may just be starting to be on time or early! Or spending an hour each day talking to or seeing clients or people who could become clients! Or actually exercising for that 30 minutes a day!
Raise the bar for yourself. Design that accountability and be impeccable with your word. I can promise you miracles will start to happen.

(Joeann Fossland, Certified e-PRO Trainer, GRI, PMN, is a Master Certified Coach and Founder of the Web Women Giving Circle. Joeann is the Creator of The Real Estate Game®, the most effective group coaching available. You can reach her by e-mail.)

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