Accountability is something we all search for - how do we hold ourselves accountable to accomplish what we set out to do? How do we get MORE accountable, and hopefully get more done? So we sign up for buddies, we buy tools, we make lists... and we still struggle. So what gives? This week on the podcast, we're talking about accountability - what are we REALLY looking for? What is MISSING? And what do we NEED to actually accomplish what we set out to do?
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Welcome, welcome to another episode of Teachers in Business. I am Sara Torpey. I am so glad you are here today. This week we are going to talk about accountability. And hopefully the construction noise in the background in my house won't be too loud. It's kind of what I got right now. We are in the process of building some new things here. And so, before we get started, I think the reason I want to talk about accountability this week is more and more what I hear from clients and people in my Facebook group, which is also called teachers and business, if you're not already in there you should be it is a magical place full of useful things and amazing people all who get what you're doing, who are the same as you building a business as a teacher, as a service provider as somebody who thinks about others first. So this is this idea of accountability is one I know as a business owner, I think about a lot it is something I hear about from potential clients. And for people in my group all the time. It's like, well, how do I hold myself more accountable. And so it's like, you know, if I'm the thought is, if I am more accountable, I will get more accomplished, right. And if I get more accomplished, then I get closer to what I set out to do. So we think that more accountability will get us further. And it's an interesting thing, right? Like, it seems logical. So this week, I want to talk about this accountability and what it actually is, and what's in the way, what are we really looking for when we're asking for accountability? What's missing when we ask for accountability? And what do we actually need to set out what we plan to do? Because sure, it's accountability to ourselves. But it's, it's a little different than that accountability is kind of a convenient way to talk about this. So I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago. And the first thing I did like I often do, is I went to visit Merriam Webster. Because for whatever reason, my default thing as a math teacher is to go figure out what the definition of the word is, before I start to really play with it. So I went and looked up a countable one. When we are accountable, you think about it in the work world, what we are doing is we're explaining our conduct, which is a really interesting definition. I was like, Oh, interesting. Like when we are accountable. We are basically held to account we're explaining what we did with our time, we are defending almost our actions. It's like, if your boss is holding you to account, it's like, what did you accomplish today. And it's interesting that that's what we're looking for. In our own businesses, when we're flexible when we're trying to do things our way. We're over in some ways, holding ourselves to account holding ourselves responsible in a way that like maybe doesn't fit the model of what we're doing in entrepreneurship, it's more of a corporate model more of a like worker boss model, than it is, you know, a an entrepreneur model. So I don't know if you're like me, so after I defined it with Merriam Webster, I was like, Okay, what do I expect accountability to be? And when I sat down to think about this as a good question to answer for yourself, like, what is your expectation of your accountability? My expectation of my accountability is certainly that I am checking off all the things and doing all the things I set out to do all the time. Which like, the minute I wrote that down, I was like, Whoa, go figure. This doesn't work. Because that's not actually real. Because there's zero chance that we're ever anyone going to set out to do get done all the things we set out to do every time. And so first, we're starting with this mindset that's like, there's somebody I have to report what I'm doing to. And then second, we have an expectation that accountability is perfect that we are perfectly accountable. If I say I'm going to do these three things today, I'm going to do these three things today. And if I don't, I've let myself down. And that's like, awful, doesn't feel great. And looking at it logically, from the outside. It's like, oh, God, that's ridiculous. But that doesn't stop us from expecting it. Right. So the question then becomes, so what we do as humans is we're like, okay, I know I can't be 100% accountable 100% of time, I'm not going to be perfect. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go buy a tool that will let me be perfect. I'm gonna get Trello I'm We use my calendar, I'm going to set up a system, I'm going to set reminders on the do all these things, and then I will be perfectly accountable. The other thing we do is we go like make accountability buddies and I have accountability buddies, I love them. They are like friends at this point they are dear friends and we're also holding each other accountable. But we go, we share our goals, we share our plans, we say our goals out loud, and that helps us get closer to making them real. But we expect to put tools in place and people in place to hold us accountable when we don't, to like fix us in some way. It's like, I know, I'm not going to be 100% Perfectly accountable all the time. So I'm going to buy a tool and get a buddy and they're going to make up the 20% that I can't be perfect. This, I'm 80% Perfect. So there's 20% that I'm missing. Because I'm a terrible person, I'm going to use a tool and a buddy, and they're going to get me the rest of the way. And again, from the outside, it's like, ooh, that seems illogical, but we definitely talk ourselves into it. When it comes down to it, when we are looking for accountability, we're looking for a couple of things. I what I you know, it's, it's funny, I made a list of like what I think we are looking for, when we are asking for accountability. And I actually think it's four things. So the first thing is we want permission. When we are looking for accountability, we are looking for someone to say, Hey, you said you could do this thing, it's the right thing for you to do, go do it. But we don't need other people to give us permission, we can give permission to ourselves. So that's number one. When you're like searching for accountability, it's you know, do I need to give myself permission to just go do this thing. Maybe, right? The second thing is that we want you know, in a boss work or relationships, someone else is telling you what to do, right? Sometimes it's really comforting to have somebody be able to tell us what to do when things are unknown when they're new. When we're learning when you're the CEO of your business like you are. It's it's lovely to have even though we don't really want anybody to tell us to do what to do. We want someone to tell us what to do, we want direction. So sometimes what we want is direction. We want somebody to help us choose our direction we want to be heard. And we want someone to say like this is how you do it. Because it's a big responsibility to decide that for ourselves, the risk is greater if we're the one deciding how it works. So that's number two, we're looking to, like share responsibility, and have someone tell us what to do like we're looking for direction. The third one is that we want to push, like we're afraid that we won't push ourselves hard enough that we won't accomplish as much as far as fast as we know we're capable of. Because we won't push hard enough. So we go to an outside tool, we go to a friend, we go to a colleague hoping that they're going to sort of pull us along, when our inner resolve crumbles when our when we get tired, when we get frustrated and have them go like Nope, you're okay, keep going. Right. And honestly, as a coach, that's a lot of what I do with people. I hold them accountable in, you know, when they're tired, I remind them that, you know, it's not as much work because it feels like they're doing a really good job. It's making all kinds of progress. I help remind them that, you know, they set a goal and look at all the progress they've made. And actually they're doing a really good job. They're doing better than they think. Like this is the kind of push we need from the outside sometimes. And that's part of what we want when we want accountability. And I think the last thing we want out of accountability that's really interesting to me is we want pressure. We want a push, I think there's something different between push and pressure. We want someone to say to us, yes, keep going. You're doing great. That's like a push like Yes, keep going, keep going, keep going. But like there's also this need, we feel like we have to have a little pressure on us to accomplish I especially if you tend to procrastinate this is not really how I do it. The more pressure there is the more panicked I get. But if you are someone who like procrastinated assignments in high school and college where you like wait till the last minute then you Bang it all out in the last 24 hours, some of what we're hoping for is accountable and accountability is someone to know what that we didn't do it. Right? Like, I'll have clients that say to me, I'm just going to tell you, I'm going to do this thing. Because if I tell you, I'm going to do this thing, you're going to ask about it next week. And I don't want to tell you, I didn't do it. So they're like using me as the tool to apply pressure to themselves in a funny way. But what our hope is that we're, we can put a little healthy pressure, hopefully, it's healthy, on ourselves to accomplish. So what I think is interesting is when you're like, gosh, I need to be more accountable. You get to look around and say like, well, do I need permission? Do I want shared responsibility? Do I want some direction? Do I need a push? And how do I get that? Or do I want? Do I need? Do I feel the need to have a little pressure on me? Do I need to turn up the heat a little bit? These are all things to think about when you're looking for accountability that are a little different than like, I just need a tool to keep me accountable. Because it's more than that, right? It's not just accountability isn't what we really want. We don't want to have to like report our activity to anyone. But we do want direction, permission, some pressure sometimes and a push. The other cop, I would I would add a caveat to all of this, though. And as I was thinking about this, like all of these things work to help you be accountable to help you accomplish a you're not going to be perfect, it's not going to be 100% No matter how many buddies or tools you have. That's not possible. So first, we have to reimagine our expectations of accountability, like what do I really expect? Second, we need to understand what we're asking for when we ask for accountability, permission, pressure, shared responsibility or a push. But the other thing I would say is, knowing what we want and setting the expectation of what we want only works if you are not actively avoiding something. So you can't hold yourself accountable for something you aren't willing to do yet. I mean, there are a lot of times like I was talking to a friend earlier this week about a podcast she wants to start. And she's been giving herself a lot of crap for she hasn't started yet, she should have started ages ago, she should have gotten more done, she should have done this already, it should be done. But like, in reality, it's not something she's willing to add onto her plate yet. So she's trying to hold herself accountable to accomplish it, but isn't ready to do it. So of course, the accountability isn't working, because she doesn't actually want to do it yet. If she's not ready, holding herself accountable, isn't going to help. Like it's just gonna make her feel like she's failing. And so if you are actively avoiding something, if you're not ready to do it, if you have a huge mental hurdle or roadblock to overcome, that is in the way. Accountability is going to be really difficult. It's trying to like pull yourself up a mountain with a big boulder blocking the path. That's not going to work well. So before you decide that you need permission, you need to push any pressure you need whatever this tool is you need Trello you got to look at what you're trying to hold yourself accountable to. And be an Ask yourself really like, Am I willing to do this right now? Am I able? Do I have what I need? Am I ready? Am I resourced? Am I willing to fail at it? Because I think something that stands in the way of us a lot of the time is when we want to hold on, we want to hold ourselves accountable. But we also want to do it right the first time. And that's just not gonna happen either. That's not how life works like you don't get on a bike and immediately know how to ride. So if you're struggling to hold yourself accountable for something step back, is it something you're ready to do right now? Is it something you're willing to do right now? Is it something you're willing to fail at right now? Do you have all the resources you need? And if the question answer to all of those questions is yes. If you are willing, you are able you were ready truly and you're answering those things, honestly, it's not through the lens of like, well I should be because that's that's got to go if the answers are all yes, you have the resources you're ready, you're willing, you're able, you're good with failing at it like you're really like you're ready, then it's like okay, so what do I really need to hold myself accountable? Do I need someone from outside like a coach? Do I need to give myself permission? Do I need to pull in a colleague and sort of make a pact? What does that look like? But that's based on the idea that you are willing ready resourced and willing to fail? Right? So, as you look at accountability for yourself and for your business, I think it's time to give it a little more nuance. What do you want from your accountability? And why do you think it's the answer, right? Like, if is the answer really, that you need to be more accountable? Whereas the answer that maybe we all need a little more grace? I mean, no one's going to be 100%, perfect 100% of the time. So what's the story there? Right? In, here's what I would invite you to, if you are struggling with accountability, and you're like, Yes, I am willing, I am ready. I am able, I am resourced I am all these things. I just need someone's brain inside to help me. Listen, this is a lot of why people hire a coach. This is part of why people hire me. They tell me like I know what to do. I just make it harder than I have to. They say I know what to do. I just avoid it. Because I get scared i They say I am in my own way, I am the problem. And if that's true for you, like I am, I have experience in helping people get past these things. It really helps to have someone on the outside, look at it objectively and say, Listen, things are going better than you think this is working, keep going to help you see the data that you're creating, to help you have permission to help you with direction when you're like you know what, I just don't know what to do here. I don't necessarily dictate your direction. Unless it's really necessary. I might say to you, you know what the right way forward is this based on what I know about business. But at the same time, I'll let I'll help you to pick apart the choices and see which one actually works for you. It's like, okay, based on how you work best, here are the options, what feels like it fits, is really important to think about how it would fit for you to move forward, it's important to have somebody not just tell you what to do, but have it work for you. Right, that's you're not going to be accountable if a system isn't going to fit you. So if you are ready for greater accountability, and you know what you need to get that is someone else in your business with you together, like I am not the police, but I'm certainly good at like, Hey, what's going on here? Why aren't you moving forward? What's what's in the way, and helping you work that out, if you're ready for that kind of accountability, that really serves you and really does move things so much faster than you might on your own, it's time to talk about coaching, you can send a message, it's to email@example.com, you can come into my Facebook group, which is called Teachers in Business and send a message there, you can join the fun in the group, you can come find me on LinkedIn, whatever makes you happy. And you know, the other tool for accountability that I offer. That I think is a really great resource is my Charting Business Success, small group program, the next round of that is going to start kicking off in June, which means I'm going to start putting people into spots in May, which isn't like a week. So if you're thinking about charting business success, it is going to be four spots, they are going to be gone well before June, if you have thoughts on being in that group, now's the time to reach out. Or you can wait until I send out the link and just really pay attention. But that works too. And in the meantime, you know I'd love to hear what you think about this view of accountability if you have thoughts. So feel free to send a message and share your ideas, send me an email, drop me a line, do whatever. And if you would take a moment to subscribe to this podcast to rate it. If you're finding it really useful. That would be super appreciated. This is how other people find this podcast. And your support means the world. So thank you and happy accountability. We will talk again next week.