Stephen Covey wrote that one must become independent before becoming interdependent, that private victories are what allow for public victories later. You might think of this concept as personal leadership, the idea that you are responsible for leading yourself. The idea that you should hold yourself accountable is critical for success and productivity. If you want to live an effective life, you have to hold yourself accountable for creating the results you want.
For What Are You Responsible
You may have someone you report to at work, and the person occupying that role may provide you with goals, initiatives, projects, or tasks you need to complete. That person should never have to ask you to do the work required of you. Your accountability to yourself should always exceed your accountability to others.
When you hold yourself accountable for the results you need to produce, no one else will ever have to. This is the mindset of personal leadership, and it undergirds your success and your productivity.
- Health: You are responsible for your health and well-being. All of your results start with your health. Your energy, clarity, and stamina all begin with your physical health. You are accountable to no one other than yourself when it comes to your health, though it’s likely that others depend on you taking care of yourself.
- Wealth: The wealth you create–or don’t create—is something you alone determine for yourself. Other than paying your taxes, no one is going hold you accountable for creating whatever level of wealth you want. No one is going to try to stop you from creating it, either. When no one is going to hold you accountable, you can be confident that it is an area where you need strong disciplines.
- Growth: The education system is not responsible for your growth and development, even though it might have helped get you started. Neither are your parents after a certain age. As much as you believe it your company’s responsibility to develop you, it isn’t. All of these areas are too narrow a view of growth and inadequate to the task. You alone are responsible for reaching your full potential.
- Relationships: A large part of success and happiness is found in relationships. The development and maintenance of those relationships is an area that requires constant and continuous investments of time and energy. The quality of those relationships depends upon your proactive efforts, without which they will be less than you want for yourself—and less for the people who matter most.
- Contribution: It is hard to think about the contribution you want to make if you don’t have a vision for yourself and your life in the areas above and all the other areas of your life where you cannot expect anyone else to hold you accountable. Once you recognize your responsibility to yourself in these areas, you can start thinking about the contribution you want to make while you are here.
That Which Gets Planned
That which gets planned gets done. That which does not get planned does not get done. The antidote to “The Drift,” the idea that you allow external forces to drive your life where they will, is intentionality.
If you give yourself two hours to plan your week, you will have a much more effective week than you would have should you have started each day without having already determined the most important outcomes you needed to create. The results you accomplish by planning will not only be more significant, but they will also be of a higher quality.
As the Industrial Age ended and the Information Age began, we found ourselves working with our brains and not our and backs. We also found ourselves liberated from being directed by others in what work we do, how we do it, and when we do it. As oversight decreased, personal accountability increased.
As it pertains to the more important areas of your life, such as your health, wealth, growth, and relationships, those have never belonged to anyone else. If you don’t have a vision for these areas, no one does. Without a plan, you won’t bring those visions to life.
That What Gets Measured
If you are going to hold yourself accountable, you need a scorecard. You need a way to measure goals and your progress towards accomplishing them. Without a way to measure your results, you will never know how if you are progressing or if you need to make adjustments.
Your scoreboard always tells the truth, which is why you might avoid looking at it. Being accountable to yourself requires that you step on the scale, even if you are not going to like what it tells you. It means looking at your finances when you know it’s not what you want it to be. In these areas, the metrics are known and easy to capture. But you need a way to keep score in other areas, like growth and relationships, even if the measurements you use are subjective.
Your accountability to yourself requires that you take an accounting of how you are doing in every area that is important you, but most notably in the areas where there is no one else responsible for your results. If you are starting on this journey, you may want to look at your results more frequently, using a weekly scorecard to establish the disciplines. As you burn in the disciplines, you might move your reviews to a monthly cadence.
No One Else
No one should expect more from you than you. No one else should ever have to hold you accountable for your results, whether they are the personal categories here or the results you are responsible for at work. By holding yourself accountable, you prevent anyone else forever having to do so.