Managing the Choice of Accountability (Part 4 of 4)

All of us stand at the crossroads of thousands of daily choices, but one of the most effective choices you will ever make regarding achievement is the choice of accountability. The choice of accountability is the third of the big three (attitude, action, accountability) life choices that form the foundation of achievement.

Most people cringe whenever the word “accountability” is used. It reminds us of the time when we had to do something that we did not want to do, or the time when we had to report to someone we did not respect. But that is not the context of this discussion of accountability.

Accountability is motivational force
From this point on, I want you to think of accountability as a motivational force that will push you beyond your self-imposed limitations. And THAT is a very good thing!

Achievement is about moving to the next level of life, about doing things you never dreamed possible. To achieve, you must change, and change is adverse to our basic human instincts. This means that:

You must use all of your
creative gifts of imagination,
intuition, and choice to counterbalance
your instinctive responses to change.

Your human instincts were designed and built into your mental makeup specifically to keep you safe. It accomplishes its objective by encouraging you to seek a comfort zone where nothing ever changes.

Psychologically, your brain instinctively views growth and change as a threat and immediately encourages you to retreat to more comfortable activities. That is why unproductive habits are so difficult to change! It is also why mediocrity is the norm, and achievement is the exception.

It is important to seek an “outside-in” perspective to bring about the kind of change you need for sustainable achievement and growth. This perspective can come from a mentor or group of people with like-minded interests to whom you choose to be accountable for your goals.

The choice of accountability is usually the most significant choice anyone can make regarding their future achievement.

How accountability works
In making the choice of accountability, it is important to understand the mechanics of how and why it works. You remember the simple formula for achievement: doing the right things consistently over a sustained period of time.

To make your choice of accountability more effective, you must identify the “right things,” which we call Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.  At every level of achievement there are always certain activities that must be consistently performed for achievement to take place. Looking at the history of previous achievers is a good place to start.
The next step in making the choice of accountability is finding someone who has achieved at the level to which you aspire. Once you learn the right things to do from that person, you need to discover the level of activity required to achieve your goal within the time frame of your target date. This standard level of activity, as you know, is your “benchmark.”

Now, with that understood, let’s define achievement more effectively.

Achievement is performing
all the required KPIs,
at benchmark, consistently
over a sustained period of time.

That is how you achieve — you choose to be accountable to your desired level of KPIs at benchmark. That is the key to your effectiveness.

There are three parts of accountability that seem to hold true. The following describes these parts.

#1 — Making a commitment
When you are striving to achieve, commitment takes on a whole different meaning. I have seen more commitments broken than commitments kept. This seems to be average behavior within our society.

High achievers, however, act differently. They develop what I call a “winning behavior,” and the foundation for winning behavior is this: keeping commitments. It is evident by their habit of always doing what they say they are going to do.

When you choose to be accountable to your goals, you must:
A. Make a commitment to perform the KPIs at a level you can perform and
B. Report on that performance weekly to a mentor or a group of like-minded people.

Performing at benchmark, in the beginning, is not the most important issue. The most important issue is to do what you say you are going to do. The difference between what you say and what you do is called your performance gap.

Your objective is to do what you say
and consistently increase your performance
until you reach benchmark.

The time it takes you to get to benchmark is completely up to you.

I have used this affirmation for years regarding commitment: “A commitment made is a debt unpaid until delivered.”

Some people make commitments and then decide if they are really going to follow through. For me, a commitment made is like owing money, and I have signed the note! I cannot forfeit on that commitment any more than I can forfeit on borrowed money.

Doing what you say you are going to do is the most important winner behavior you will ever develop, and the choice of accountability helps you develop that behavior.

#2 — Building confidence in your untapped potential
Most people do not develop in grand leaps. Occasionally you will see a top achiever quickly rise to the top, but I have experienced that most of us grow in small increments.

The reality of achievement is that it does not matter how small the step is, as long as you take those steps consistently and those steps continue to increase. It is the old grow or decline theory. You must make a commitment to grow consistently and never settle into a no-growth pattern.

Consistent growth requires confidence, and confidence only comes from the experience of successful attempts. There is no better place to experience successful attempts than in the choice of accountability.

When you choose accountability, you must make a commitment to do what you say you are going to do and report on that to an outside partner on a weekly basis. During this process you will experience success and failure. It becomes a weekly proving ground for your commitment.

As you learn from this weekly choice of accountability, you begin to notice that you are doing things that you never thought possible. With time, you begin to understand this truth:

You possess an unlimited
amount of untapped

When you become aware of this untapped potential, you begin to develop confidence in your potential. You become aware that no matter how challenging the future may be, you have the untapped potential to successfully deal with it.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to develop this confidence in your untapped potential without choosing to be accountable to your goals and learning to make a commitment.

#3 — Understand that accountability is a choice
Accountability is a mature choice. Some say that accountability is a sign of weakness. These people try to achieve in private with a false sense of independence and pride. They may reason, “I only need me, and I can account for myself better than anyone.”

I have known only a few people who could do this on their own, and I would never recommend it. For all next-level growth and every next-level step I have made in my life, the choice of accountability played a major role.

Most of us need the outside perspective of accountability to grow, and in most cases, no one can make that choice for you. Forced accountability will produce only temporary results.

Choosing accountability is an effective choice because you cannot hide behind your comfort zones. Accountability pushes you past those self-imposed limitations and into a lifestyle of achievement and growth, which is what you want!

When you step forward with the choice of accountability, you are saying YES to achievement and growth.

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David Byrd is an author, coach, consultant, and a developer of personal growth behaviors in pursuit of Achievement. Founder and CEO of David Byrd Consulting, LLC, he is a master of effective leadership and works closely with leaders and their organizations worldwide utilizing a system of personal management and achievement called the Next Level Achievement System™. He is a best-selling author with four published books, a sought after speaker, and leadership development consultant.

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