Making the Most of Accountability Partners
5 principles to get the most out of the experience
This past Sunday I wrote in my newsletter about an experience I had recently while in discussion with my accountability partner, Mark W. Guay. Mark and I talk for a half hour every Wednesday evening. We discuss what is working and what is not working in each other’s lives, and we each define a thing or two that we will accomplish in the upcoming week.
Based on the replies I received people are very interested in learning more about accountability partners.
Mark and I discuss a broad range of things—from business to health to family. Two weeks ago he held me accountable for finding a new speaking engagement before our next call. I followed through. This week I am being held accountable to eat 20 grams of protein and do 42 push-ups (42 is my age) within five minutes of getting out of bed in the morning. I am feeling muscles in my upper body that I didn’t know existed.
Over the years, I have had a number of accountability partners, but they never seemed to stick. In looking back, I see that it really came down to a lack of commitment. In the past, I was not committed to the process. When the going got tough and we knew we weren’t following through, my partner or I would back out of our allocated time to chat.
But five months into the process, Mark and I are still going strong.
If you’re serious about taking your life to the next level, I suggest that you find an accountability partner. Here are five principles that I believe can help you to get the most out of the experience:
1. Commit to the journey
The best definition of success that I have ever heard is that success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. If we embody this definition, we realize that every day we move forward we are successful. Accountability between two people works best when each individual has truly bought into the idea of incremental improvement.
2. Keep an open mind
Mark and I met each other in an online community. We attended a number of webinars together and eventually friended each other on Facebook. Over the next couple of months, we got to know each other. I reached out to Mark and initiated a phone call. Mark lives in New York state, and I live in Newfoundland, Canada. We were both open-minded enough to have the initial discussion and explore the possibilities.
3. Actively listen
During our 30 minute jam session each week, we each spend ten minutes talking about our experiences of the past week. We take turns talking while the other person listens. At times, it is difficult not to butt in, to interrupt, with suggestions. But I have found that the best sessions are the ones in which the person speaking feels completely heard. After the person finishes, the partner then chimes in with his perspective. The purpose of accountability partners is less about advice and more about listening and holding each other accountable.
4. Hold each other accountable, but be kind
There are weeks when life just gets in the way. Obviously, life getting in the way of progress every week is likely a symptom of a larger problem, such as a lack of commitment. At that point, the stronger of the two partners should decide if his or her time is simply being wasted. However, if a partner misses his or her action commitment for a week or two in a row, it is important that the other partner not to be harsh or criticize. Harsh criticism is a surefire way to break the bond.
5. Celebrate the small wins
When first starting out, the best way to gain momentum is to celebrate the small wins. Rome was not built in a day. Commit to making progress over the long term, and celebrate the small wins each week as a way to continue and even build momentum over time.
Having an accountability partner has been a critical success factor in my consistent, forward movement. If you are serious about taking your life to the next level, I suggest that you be open to meeting new people who are moving in the same direction as you are. Identify someone who you would like to be your accountability partner, and use the guiding principles above to make it a successful experience.
Do you have an accountability partner? What has worked for you?