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Accountability – Thinking about thinking about it.

Updated: Apr 3, 2019


Have you been thinking about being more accountable? It’s not uncommon.


“We need more accountability around here.”


Needing more accountability around the place is like thinking about needing healthier snacks or a better on-site gym. Yes, accountability would certainly improve the place! What’s interesting about accountability is that we can feel how much better everything would be if we had more of it. Just like we can feel the difference between eating a Twinkie (are they still a thing?) and an apple; or the difference between using a crappy treadmill and an elliptical complete with a state-of-the-art display.



Accountability feels better.


Lately, I’ve been getting up at o'dark hundred to get to my fitness class before 6:00am. It was the class I thought I would hate the most of the 4 different ones I tried (Zumba and I didn’t get along) and it turns out I love it enough to get to bed by 10:00 pm so I can get going by 5:00 am. The results of this class keep me going.

Accountability has a similar effect. The class I go to is weight training. After the first three times I couldn’t move much, I was so sore. But my body started rewarding me and I wanted more of that reward. I still have to talk myself into it, and sometimes that self-talk to “get up!” fails, but mostly I’ve kept it up because the reward is undeniable. I feel better.



Accountability is a muscle.


What the trainer has us do is repetition and something to do with working the muscle to a point of fatigue or a kind of breakdown to build muscle back up. She talks a lot and the music is loud so I wear earplugs. I only sort of hear what she is saying but I copy what she is doing with a weight level I choose. I can feel how much I can take without harming myself.

You can’t ‘hurry it up’ to get the benefits of the stronger muscle you are building, it’s a process. Accountability works that way. If you take it a step at a time with the form* I have attached, you will see that going from a 1 to a 5 in each area will build your accountability muscle. If you look at the whole of these accountability behaviors it’s hard to deny how you will feel and how much stronger you are. And there are setbacks.



“Accountability shaming” is a thing.


The other day, when I knew we were going into the leg strengthening part of the workout, I felt like it was time to add weight to my bar. I did. But, come the end of the series I could not lift the bar back off my shoulders by myself. I needed help, so I asked the person to my right, “Hey, can you spot me as I lift this over my head?” The instructor saw this and seemed to be scolding me... “Why can’t you lift it over your head yourself? Don’t take on so much. What’s the problem?”

I felt weight-shamed. I was called out in front of everyone for stretching myself. It was distinctly different from another instructor who saw this happen a week before. Here was her response, “Good for you! And asking for assistance is smart. I know I ask you to load twice your warm up weight for this so your arms may not be ready to take it by yourself. Better safe than sorry. So everyone, if you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it.” I felt amazing and trusted to not take on more than I could do. I did not get a lecture about loading too much. I got praise for asking for help.

When you are being accountable and really stretching to bring others into accountability I hope you are getting praised. You have to risk and stretch your accountability muscle by discouraging talking about others and encouraging talking to them, or taking the weight of ‘meeting-after-the-meeting’ off your shoulders by stopping it when it’s counterproductive. You have a lot to do with supporting others in building up their accountability muscle and you deserve support too. In the end we all feel better and the results are undeniable.



Where does more accountability start?


Have a look at the attached. Rate yourself. Rate your department. Rate your organization.

Get a coach. Get to work.

See how your accountability culture ranks HERE!

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