We are such highly influenceable beings. As adults, at least most of us, we become aware of how influential our closest friends and family members can be. Before we know it, we are wearing the same clothes, eating the same foods, and speaking the same language as those we spend the most time with.
We tend to swing along the friendship monkey bars of life throughout our twenties and into our thirties, pausing briefly with those people we have met along the way, that we either thoroughly enjoy their company or they increase the experience of our lives while we are with them.
Yet, in the workplace, it is much harder to hang around or assess who the go-getters are in your company. Why? Because organizations have what iscalled the “Status Quo”.
Rise above it, and the rest of the company will either ostracize you or worse, you could be promoted into a position that you are woefully inept to fill. So, we tend to learn fairly quickly how comfortable and easy it is just to fit in and move at the same pace as others.
For most people, this is good enough. They will play their mundane roles at the office, mindlessly respond to emails, then head home to a beer and pizza while they watch rerun episodes of the “Office”.
Especially once you take a step back and realize how many Americans rinse, wash, and repeat this exact same cycle, week after week, month after month, New Year's resolution after resolution, and then retire.
Sweet, sweet retirement.
But, there are others out there who don’t really fit in with mediocrity. They don’t want to lay around the office and age a little more each day. They are the type that wants to grab life by the throat and suck the marrow from it’s bones.
These are the people who understand the term “accountability”. Because they uphold their commitments with themselves, daily. They understand what is at stake.
And while some of these people flirt with the extremes, such as racing Ironman, growing million dollar businesses at warp speed, or wind surfing or cliff hanging on the weekends to pass the time before Monday, there is really no universal extreme when it comes to “Accountability” in general.
You either uphold your commitments to yourself or another, or you don’t. You are either accountable or you are not. Just that simple.
The more difficult part? Not conning or fooling yourself out of committing to what you say you are going to do.
So, what parts of the accountability equation are most people missing?
Let’s dive in and find out.
What are the features of a successful accountability agreement?
While every agreement will have its own individual characteristics, there are some elements that should be present in order for the pact to function at the highest level possible.
- A leader. A leader is an essential ingredient for an accountability agreement. Without someone to provide direction and keep the actions in line with the goals, time could be wasted in unproductive chatter. This is the person that cares enough to not let the other default themselves when things get uncomfortable.
- Commitment to the role: Because an agreement is only as strong as its members, participants must be committed to being active in the group. The success of a group depends on the willingness of each member to work hard, not only on his own individual goals, but also on the goals of the other members. This requires both parties to discuss and agree on the roles that each will play until the goal is reached.
- Cost. Most agreements require at least one of the members to pay a fee to participate. The value of this feature is rooted in the fact that people tend to value what they have invested themselves in. The old cliché, ‘You don’t get something for nothing,’ rings true. When clients must pay a fee for the privilege of having an accountability partner, they are likely to take it more seriously. And guess what? The higher the fee, the more committed the member. The stats on this metric do NOT lie.
So, why does "purchased" accountability work?
When highly motivated people join together to reach goals and make things happen, the result is often an up-leveling of success for everyone. At last, you are not just relying on your own ideas and your own internal motivation. By making yourself vulnerable to a coach or a group, you are subjecting yourself to their ideas, their motivation and their accountability.
Your goals become their goals. And their goals become your goals. Sometimes you need to be pushed. Sometimes you can’t see what is in front of you. Sometimes you need someone else believing that you can do something, even when you are beginning to doubt yourself.
And of course, sometimes all it takes is being surrounded by successful people who are high-energy, highly positive and highly motivated to stay in the driver’s seat of their own lives. And if these people see you trying to crawl into the back seat of your own life, they will drag you back and make sure you stay on top of your game.
Do you have goals that you want to reach? Then you can benefit from being accountable to someone other than yourself.
Perhaps you want to set a goal of working out a certain number of hours each week. Maybe you want to finally get a handle on what you eat, but you aren’t sure where to find the motivation that it takes to break ingrained habits.
It could be that if you had a someone counting on you to show up and be strong for them, you might be stronger for yourself. Or, finally, you could have paid just the right amount of money, that you would fight tooth and nail to not lose or waste your investment. That’s the best kind of accountability. The one that creates your own individual locust of necessity.
Do you want to read a book about “How” to get healthy or do you want to BE healthy?
Do you want to listen to a podcast about how to get rid of your love handles or do you actually want to GET rid of them?
All the essential elements are here waiting for you. Harness the power of this decades-old success principle, and get back in the driver’s seat of your life.