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The Freedom and Power of Being Accountable!

What I learned from breadcrumbs

This is an exciting principle. Anyone can steadily grow into becoming their best as they choose to be accountable and accept responsibility for continuous improvement. The Principles are brought together in a synergy of action with the decision to commit and  grab  opportunities. The commitment to be accountable is a commitment to act. You commit to your core to achieve the outcome no matter what. As Yoda (one of my favorite movie characters) says, “There is no try, there is only do.”

NOTEaboutCOUNTERRecently, Steve got up early, made some toast with jam, grabbed a quick glass of orange juice, and headed out to exercise. When he returned home, his wife, Roxanne, had left the house to run some errands, and the note you see here was taped to the toaster.

This was an opportunity for “choice.” Steve could take responsibility or he could blame it on something else–the toast, being in a hurry, his mother, or just being a man. He could get upset or choose a different response. What would you do?

Fortunately, he made a wise decision and he accepted responsibility. He cleaned up the mess, leaving a smooth, perfectly clean counter top and making sure no crumbs fell on the floor. He left the note you see here in place of Roxanne’s note:


A while later, Roxanne returned home. Steve listened carefully; when he heard her begin to laugh he knew she had read the note. He was grateful she had written such a positive, upbeat note to offer feedback and help him see a better way. He was also grateful that he chose to be responsible, the end result was so much better than the alternatives.

This was a good reminder that we’re faced with daily decisions which give us a choice: do we accept responsibility and move on, or do we allow something or someone else to take control of our thoughts and emotions? There is a powerful passage from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding.” Carlyle wisely said,

“A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men. Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism, and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.”

The obvious benefit is that complaining will slow down and eventually stop. The less obvious but even greater benefit is that you will save time and focus your thoughts and communications on positive topics and outcomes. The time spent complaining will become time spent achieving positive things. When you stop complaining or blaming, you take control of your life. A burden is lifted and it feels like a breath of fresh air. No one else can control your destiny. It’s up to each of us to determine our response to challenges.

Weekly Tool:
1. Go the entire week without a single complaint or blaming anyone!
2. Take responsibility. If you’ve been holding onto a grudge or you’ve been wronged in some way…let go today. Learn from the past, but leave what’s in the past behind. Determine today to accept responsibility for the future and blame no one from this point forward.
3. Read pages 167 – 185 in Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders to unlock additional ideas on how to Be Accountable.

A Lesson From GoDaddy

There are no Principles without accountability, because accountability commits you to becoming your best. Consider the example of being true to character: you set a target for a deeper, more meaningful character, and you hold yourself accountable by increasing your integrity. The commitment to be accountable is a commitment to act – not just until the going gets tough or until you are distracted by one thing or another.
In the Fall of 2012, GoDaddy was responsible, due to an internal error, for millions of websites going down for a few hours.
They could have found someone or something to blame, instead the CEO immediately sent a sincere apology letter to all their clients. In this letter he personally accepts responsibility and he makes an offer for a discount to their clients. It’s a little tough to read, but I’ve inserted a screenshot from his e-mail. Notice how there is no blame. For me personally, this letter increases rather than diminishes my loyalty because of the culture of accountability within GoDaddy.

In contrast to this extremely well written letter, have you ever dealt with a customer service representative who won’t accept responsibility or blames the issue on someone or something else? That approach almost always makes me want to take my business elsewhere.
Sometimes we’re use to blaming others, but that hinders our own progress when we aren’t accountable for our circumstance or actions.
The second we take responsibility and cease blaming others, that’s when we can make REAL progress. Whether it’s related to business, a relationship, being violated in some way, and so on. It doesn’t mean it was your fault, it just means that the blaming stops and you move on with life, focusing on the future. That’s when we can begin to make real and significant progress.

Weekly Action:
1. Be accountable at work and in your relationships. Try using the words, “I’m sorry, that’s my fault.” Or, “I apologize, I accept responsibility for X and I won’t let it happen again.” Make a commitment this week to take responsibility and not blame others.
2. Take responsibility. If you’ve been holding onto a grudge or you’ve been wronged in some way…let go today. Learn from the past, but leave what’s in the past behind. Determine today to accept responsibility for the future and blame no one from this point forward.
3. Read pages 167 – 185 in Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders to unlock additional ideas on how to Be Accountable.


fascinating stats

Did you know one simple step to goal setting can increase your chance of success by up to 85%? That’s a remarkable increase! This simple step is part of being accountable–specifically being accountable to other people for your goals and assignments. I call it the principle of ‘return and report.’ The American Society of Training and Development did a study on accountability and found the following statistics.
The probability of completing a goal if:

• you have a goal: 10%
• you set a time when you will do it: 40%
• you plan how you will do it: 50%
•you commit to someone else you will do it: 65%
• you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed to: 95%

HappyWomanThe likeliness of being successful in your goals or assignments is remarkably higher when you set a time to report back to someone on your progress. In other words, return and report to a person that is aware of your goal or assignment. Set an agreed upon time to report back to that person. In my company, our quarterly meetings have a time dedicated for managers and executives to report how they did on their goals for the last quarter. This return and report practice has helped our firm be one of the leading companies in our industry.

To return and report provides the mother or father, the supervisor or manager, the ability to track progress. It also provides the person who received the assignment, or who set the goal, to chance to show what has been accomplished. As you move forward, applying the Principles, you will find that being accountable is the key that enables you to succeed in each. You will, quite simply, become your best, and your journey will never again be the same.

Weekly Action:
1. Establish a ‘return and report’ relationship with someone. Whether at home or at work, share some specific goals or assignments with a trusted person and set a time to ‘return and report’ on your progress.
2. Record your progress of living the 12 Principles in your Thoughts book. What are some noticeable changes you’ve witnessed in your life as you’ve applied the Principles over the past 12 weeks?

How to respond to complaining

Benjamin Franklin was considered by many to be tactless in his youth. They called him arrogant and pompous. Yet, he became so diplomatic and so skillful at handling people that he was made American Ambassador to France! What was one of the secrets to his successful transformation? At an important juncture in his life, he made a commitment to not criticize, condemn, or complain. “I will speak ill of no man,“ he said,”…and speak all the good I know of everybody.”

Anyone can criticize, complain, and blame—and most people do! But it takes true self control and accountability to hold the tongue. Doing so is more profitable and far more exciting. Whenever someone complains to you, ask how he or she would like to see the situation resolved. If the person continues to criticize or whine, ask again, “How would you like to see that situation resolved in the best possible way?” This approach has the potential to change the time and energy invested in complaining into a productive discussion about possibilities. It helps individuals be accountable for their own situations. A challenging, yet rewarding, experiment you can try is to commit not to complain, blame, or criticize for a whole week—all seven days. If you complain, start over and begin at day one again. Notice the difference it creates in your life.

Here is an example, rather than saying this: “Turning in projects late is not acceptable, this is your last chance!” Try this: “I see turning in projects seems to have become a challenge, is there something we can do to help so that we can maintain high levels of trust between us?
And rather than saying this: “Don’t get so upset over it, it’s not that hard to fix,” try this: “This seems very important to you and I think we can fix it, what is required to fix this problem?”

Remember, the goal is to be quick to understand.

Weekly Action:
1.    Don’t complain, blame, or criticize for seven days. If you complain, even once, start over and begin at day one again. Notice the difference in your attitude and your ability to accomplish more.
2.    Review past entries in your Thoughts Book. Are there any undone items or things you can improve on still? Make an effort to recommit to unfinished ideas.