Empowerment Through Accountability, Part II
Last month, my blog introduced the concept of accountability. We discussed that accountability is the opposite of victimhood. When you are accountable, you take ownership for your results; when you are in a state of victimhood, you blames things outside yourself for your results. As such, accountability is the key to empowerment; in other words, it is the secret to you creating change; getting in the driver’s seat of your life; generating the results you want – without having to wait for anyone or anything else.
Accountability is the ability to account for the choices you have made and the results that you have. Accountability is about seeing you have choice in every instance. Then acknowledging choices you have made, learning from them and making different choices in the future.
In last month’s blog, I gave you an exercise to help you begin to see you have choices. Start asking yourself what are all the choices I have in this situation? I am assuming you have spent some time on this. And now that you are good at seeing you have choices and asking what they are, I will give you the next step – the process for learning from your mistakes. This is also a process to use for learning from your successes. Use this process to intentionally make choices moving forward that support you and generate what you are after.
The Accountability Process
Step One: You see the result. A result is anything – the state of a relationship; where you are living; the job you are working; whether you have children; whether you met a particular deadline; whether you kept an agreement; how much you weigh; etc. This may be a result you want or do not want. If you want to learn how you got here, so you can change it or replicate it, go to the next step.
Step Two: Looking backward, what are all the choices I made that landed me here? The rule in using this tool is that you must identify your choices and not the circumstances or what someone else did. And as stated in the prior blog, you won’t get the learning you need if you beat yourself up. Ask what choices you made in a very curious fashion and don’t give yourself a hard time about it.
Step Three: If these choices did not work for you, ask yourself “is this behavior a habit or pattern for me?” (See example below.) As stated in last month’s blog, I use neutral terms in looking at my choices. Working are those that create the results I say I want, while non-working choices generate results I say I do not want.
Step Four: What can I learn about myself in this
Step Five: What will I do differently next time? Decide and do it! This is important – you must take action to make the change or nothing will change. If you are changing a behavior, put up a reminder so you’ll remember it. When you have a habit, your brain is trained to continue it. You will not just remember to do something different. To break a non-working habit or start a new one, you will need something to remind you.
Example: I am late for a meeting. Step one – I know that I do not want to be late and it breaks trust with people. I want to be known for my word and to be on time to everything I commit to. This is a result I do not want to repeat. Step two – looking back I see a number of choices I made that may have generated this result. I went to bed later than usual last night and I was tired this morning. I hit the snooze button. My daughter was sick and I chose to stay with her later than normal because I did not have a sitter lined up. On the way to the meeting, I chose to stop for gas because I did not have enough to make it. Step three – Are any of these choices representative of habits or patterns? I do not have a habit if staying up too late, though I can see it did not work this time to make that choice. It is, however, a pattern for me to not have a sitter lined up for my kids if they are sick on a school day and it is also a pattern for me to let my gas tank get near empty. Step four – what I’ve learned is that I am not planning ahead enough. First, I don’t have a plan for contingencies, such as my children being sick and I have really just been lucky so far that my husband has been available to stay with them. Second, I tend to rush a lot and leave last minute which is why I tend to run on empty a lot. The problem is that then I take away some of my own freedom as to when I get gas. I get it when I am about to run out. Often this limits my choices. Step five – I am going to find people who can babysit during school days. I’ll create a list so I have choices. I will start filling up my tank when it is 1/2 empty. I will put a post-it note in my car to remember this. And I will start leaving 5 minutes early everywhere so I am not rushing. Again, I will need a reminder of this – I’ll put a note in my kitchen and my calendar.
Next week, I will talk about accountable language in greater depth and also the deeper level of the accountability model. For now, begin using this model. Use it when you have results you don’t want. Use it when you break agreements with yourself or others. You can also use it when you have a result you do want to see how you generated it so you can replicate that.