“Responsibility” and “accountability” can sound like dirty words.
“Responsibility” denotes duty and obligation. Things that will always feel like “work,” no matter how much you glitter them up.
Accountability just sounds like a gut punch. You don’t want to be the one who’s accountable for anything! If the initiative fails, it’s your fault.
And yet, this is where your true power lies.
Last quarter, in the yearlong leadership program I’m currently taking, I was responsible for booking Saturday empowerment events. I was to set up two hosts, set targets for attendee numbers, and work with other people on the team to ensure everything ran smoothly.
At first, I didn’t have the structure or the support I needed, and while the first event went well, the second event bombed. No one showed up, and the hosts weren’t happy about this. They gave me a piece of their mind!
Honestly, I was ready to throw in the towel.
But then I got some help. And I started to see the power in making new promises around attendance each week.
From that week forward, we had guests every single week.
We didn’t always meet our target. Sometimes we exceeded it. Sometimes we came in well under.
But each Saturday, there was an empowerment event, there were two hosts, and there were guests in attendance. And that made the entire initiative a success.
It’s amazing how much all of us have around getting things wrong, not meeting targets, making dubious claims or predictions. We lose faith in ourselves because of things not going as expected.
And the promises you made yesterday might be more a factor of not enough sleep, too much caffeine, and some distorted sense of how yesterday went?
Promises do matter. What doesn’t matter, as much, is whether you meet the promises, assuming you put an honest effort forward. And that goes contrary to the world of performance we were brought up in, where you’re either right or wrong.
Your mind goes to work on problems you present it with (and it does this better when you’re intentional about the process – you summon creative energies you didn’t know you had!)
You’ll be infinitely closer to reaching your goals by committing to a promise versus shrinking back and not putting anything on the line
If you don’t reach your targets, you can still restore integrity, make a new promise, and make things right
The world insists that commitment is the enemy of choice. But commitment is the very essence of freedom. When you’re committed to something, all options outside of that project or outcome become completely irrelevant. Your decisions and actions become clearer, and laser targeted.
You got to be a kid in grade school. But you don’t get to be a kid anymore. The results you generate in your music career are 100% a function of what you did and didn’t do! And whatever results generated, they don’t matter, just like in a game of Monopoly. Someone won, the rest didn’t, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.
The only thing you need to do with the results is to be clear on the results. You can do something with numbers you can see. You can’t do anything with numbers hidden from plain sight.
In everything we do, we strive to make the “right” choice at minimum, and the “perfect” choice where possible.
Whether it’s choosing a passion, business idea or niche, significant other, or even something as trivial as what to watch next on Netflix, we feel the pressure to choose well.
This tends to steal our joy in the shorter and longer term.
In the short term, we end up focusing on all the other choices we could have made. And we tend go back on our choices relatively quickly.
In the long term, we go back to the moment of decision, wondering what it would have been like to choose a different path, assuming that another path would have been better by comparison.
Where there is the incessant pressure to make the perfect decision, expect unhappiness.
Why? Because you’re expecting perfection. So, you’re not willing to accept anything other than what you would consider perfect – from yourself and from others. As result, you will feel like a failure every time you fail to make a perfect decision.
People who commit to the choices they make are happier because they don’t constantly second guess themselves. They understand that life won’t be “perfect” under any circumstances. They can see that the abundance of options isn’t going to make one iota of difference to their happiness.
And don’t forget, perfect is only an opinion, and everyone has their own.
Think of it this way – if you can’t be accountable to yourself, you’re not going to be good at holding others accountable either. Others can’t trust you to keep them in check.
Further, if you don’t follow through on the things you’ve committed yourself to, it ends up eroding your self-confidence.
And thus, a negative cycle is created. What I’ve just described is a formula for losing.
We need to examine this more closely…
If you’re asking someone to hold you accountable to something, it’s because you find yourself having a hard time living without that addiction. You’re confronting a part of yourself that either wants to or doesn’t want to do something very badly.
Asking a friend to wipe a cigarette out of your mouth is like treating the symptom without addressing the cause. Even with their help, you’re bound to repeat old patterns.
The first thing you need to do is sit with yourself. And don’t make yourself or your emotions wrong. Oftentimes, our emotions are simply demanding a little bit of attention. And there is nothing wrong with the emotions that come up. It’s possible they’ve been trapped in there for a while.
Acknowledge your emotions. Sit with them. Love them. You will find that they begin to dissolve relatively quickly when we give them the space and attention they require, like a parent consoling their weeping child.
Once you’ve confronted the emotions that have been controlling you, the only thing left to do is create a schedule and live by it. If your schedule says work out, work out. If your schedule says work, work. And if anything doesn’t work, change the schedule. Keep iterating until it’s workable.
Sooner or later, you will begin to see that it becomes much easier to keep your commitments, especially when you internalize the consequences of not holding yourself accountable.
If you are the kind of person that can keep themselves accountable, then and only then are you qualified to keep others accountable.