We Choose The Wrong Things To Be Accountable For

Distinctions on Accountability

Having worked with leaders from all walks of life and industries one topic that often brings a mix of desire and fear is accountability. High achievers CRAVE someone holding them accountable and those who lack confidence or fear they won’t stand up to scrutiny want to avoid it at all costs.

The challenge is that our relationship to accountability is linked to a fear of failure, criticism, and the constant feeling that we’re never getting enough done. But accountability isn’t about feeling bad about yourself, it’s about having an honest and powerful relationship with your word. It’s about getting invaluable feedback about what is and isn’t working in your life.

But getting there isn’t easy for most people so here is the first of five distinctions on accountability that can help you be true to your word, be honest about your level of commitment, and improve your integrity with others.

Read part one.

Part 2: We Usually Choose the Wrong Things To Be Accountable For

There are two tricks most people employ at accountability meetings. They commit to things that they already know they’ll get done. They commit to several things that are all ‘important’

But the most important things to create accountability around are those things that are truly vital for success and are for which some resistance or obvious challenge exists.

Sometimes these aren’t the same things. Sometimes the most vital things are the things you would do anyway, in which case being accountable to them is still valuable.

But if you want to get the most out of accountability the key is to find the places where there are weak spots or places where you’re unsure or blind about the process.

When you bring these things into an accountability conversation that’s when you start to get real traction from this type of work, because it brings your attention to the gaps where your best work goes to die.

In addition, don’t pile on LOTS of things to be accountable to. The process of choosing what’s truly important is JUST as important as getting done what’s most important. I limit most of my groups to ONE item that will move their business forward. When they bring two I ask them which one matters more.

When I lead teams I limit them to 3 priorities a quarter. Yes technically I could fit four on the PowerPoint slide, but after doing strategy with various teams over the years few of them complete 3 major initiatives each quarter. Usually, when they commit to four they get one of them done really well.

It can be hard to choose what matters, and of course you can always get more done, the POINT of practicing accountability is to get more vital things done. Things that have an impact. So the more clear you can get on what really matters the more you’ll get out of accountability.


My Whole Team QUIT! And How To Let Go

I’ve been thinking a lot about the choice to let go of something. Hope, people I care about, how I want things to be…


I recently took Facebook off of my phone and Ipad. I rarely go on to check it, just to post and share.

This didn’t feel that hard to let go. I notice an urge to go back and check it sometimes, but generally I just don’t, it’s that simple. If I can survive the urge I stay with letting go.


Recently my amazing assistant told me she wasn’t happy. At first, I tried to figure out a way to get her to stay but I don’t want someone to work for me if they aren’t happy. So we agreed to give it the weekend.

Over the weekend I stayed up SUPER LATE working really hard out of fear and panic. But I eventually saw what I was doing. I relaxed. I accepted. I let go.

So on Monday when my other assistant said she was quitting too it was fine. I felt some fear and I accepted it. I ended up talking to the last remaining member of my team on Wednesday of that week and we got clear it was time for him to move on as well.

I let them go. I was scared. I was sad. But it just felt like what wanted to happen. I relaxed and let go.


There are a few things in my life I continuously struggle to let go.

The need to try really hard.
Remembering my ex.
Dreaming about my future partner.

All of these feel impossible to let go of. Especially in the moment.

Pushing really hard is easy for me. Life has often felt like a bare knuckle boxing match and I just need to punch my way through.

Over and over I see myself doing this and I let go, but it comes back again and again.
I’ve sort of given up on the idea that this will ever go away completely.

Every time I feel resistance, I feel sadness. Part of me wants to reminisce, part of me wants to let go, part of me wants to feel grief.

Slowly I let go but there’s often pain. Even in the clarity of the path ahead.

Finally I often dream or fantasize about who I might be with next.
Having children.
Making love.
Laughing together.
The simple feeling of peace waking up next to someone.

Again and again, I try to let these go.

These are especially difficult because the fantasies often feel really good.
Sometimes they’re painful because it makes me feel even more lonely now.

But slowly I let them go.


Moment to moment these things seem like they never move at all.
At times I feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

But when I look back I see them slowly shift and melt.

I work less hard than I used to.
I go long stretches without thinking about my ex.
I forget about the fantasies and am just here in my life.

In these moments patience is the hardest thing for me to muster
I want to let go faster.
Which generally has me hold on harder.

But slowly, gently. I am learning to let go.


Be With Complaints Like Rain

If you have a baby, it’s going to cry, and if you lead people, they are going to complain. This isn’t a diss on people.

It’s not that people are whiny, but quite the opposite. Our capacity to deal with tremendous challenges and adversity is incredible, but we also complain.

We complain because we’re not happy.
Because we don’t know what to do.
Because we feel like we don’t have power.
Because we want to be seen and loved and listened to.

The challenge for you as a leader is how to respond to these complaints.

“Yeah yeah I hear you”, without really listening
“This complaining is SO annoying”

But none of these will get you anywhere.

So instead, be with complaints like rain: let them tell you the weather and show you where new leadership is ready to grow, while also letting it roll off of you.

Rain isn’t personal. And even when it seems that way, complaints aren’t either.