Ken Kaufman's picture

Accountability - The More Personal & Public The Better

My high school football coach was great at motivating young men. One of his consistent messages that deeply resonated with me had to do with accountability on a public and personal level. I'm paraphrasing, but his message went something like this:

Each of you are having a different educational experience than your classmates. You see, they all get to study, take their exams, and receive their grades privately. But not you. You have chosen to take the class of football. That means you study (practice, game films, etc.) in public, and you take your exam every Friday night in front of the entire community. Your performance, whether good or bad, will be scrutinized publicly. You put yourself on the line in this way, making yourself personally (you can't hide on that football field; your name is on the back of your jersey and everybody knows who you are) and publicly accountable. That takes guts. That takes courage. And the very experience will generate better results in you than any other high school activity with which I'm familiar. You'll be better men for it, especially if you seek to hold yourself personally accountable throughout your life and you never shy away from being held accountable publicly.

I held myself to a higher standard because of this message, and my performance was better as a result.

In business, in our families, and in our communities, how often do we choose to not be accountable, preferring to ignore performance and results, or lack thereof, out of sheer laziness and fear. I have been guilty of this, and I am a personal witness that the results are never as good when I ignore performance and don't hold myself accountable. A favorite quote of mine on this topic comes from religious leader Thomas S. Monson:

Accountability is not for the intention but the deed.You must continue to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong. (New Era, August 2008)

Choosing to not hold oneself accountable is always going to be the easier wrong. Accountability is the harder right. And I was reminded of this by a group of motivated people who want to hold themselves publicly accountable because they're not happy with where not holding themselves accountable has gotten them.

Understanding my background and propensity for personal and public accountability, you might understand a little better why I got involved as soon as I heard about #TMFIT (See the Twitter hashtag feed under #tmfit). Let me tell you about it.

About a week ago Alex Lawrence wrote a blog post titled: Don't Wait Until January. In it he describes how he was not happy with his slip into inactivity, poor eating, and an overall decline in health (in large part due to an injury). He decided to do something about it and has been on a mission to get fit, exercise more, and eat healthy. He has found that public accountability has helped him to obtain his goals, and this blog post was his effort to get a group together that would push each other and hold each other accountable.

Specifically, Alex proposed the following general guidelines for the #TMFIT group (see the Facebook Group #TmFit):

  • No Fad Diets or Crazy Stuff
  • Exercise a LOT
  • Do Not Wait!
  • Do Not Give Up!
  • Hold Yourself and Each Other Accountable Every Day
So, I decided to jump onto the #TMFIT ship, hoping it would help me meet some of my exercise, eating, weight, and overall fitness goals. And it already has. I started by making a public statement about my goals and plans to achieve those goals. Here is what I posted on Alex's blog:
Just posting this publicly has helped me stay motivated to do what I say I'm going to do. Then, on New Year's Day, I found out my gym was closed and I figured I would have to miss my exercise goal for the day...until a fellow #tmfit member, Nicole Bullock (@cuteculturechic on Twitter), defied all odds and went to Walmart to make sure she got her exercise done (Read her blog post here:#TmFit and the Walmart Workout). After reading about her commitment, my excuse was no longer acceptable. So I found a gym that was open, convinced my wife to join me, and paid the day fee get a workout in on New Year's Day.
Then, just last night, Alex Lawrence was interviewed by Fox 13 News about #TmFit and this group of people making public accountability personally effective. This morning another #TmFit member, Dustin Davis (@DustinDavis on Twitter), cranked out this blog post: The Fitness Revolution I Didn't Plan On #TmFit. All of the openness and transparency is refreshing and real, and flat-out motivating. 
I'm sure there will be more blog posts from participants to come. The Twitter and Facebook chatter will continue every hour. Everything a person needs to succeed in the form of a support group is in place. That leaves only one question...when are you going to join? Are you serious enough about making a change that you will put yourself out there, feel a little vulnerable, and then reap the rewards? I think you should.
Whether you decide to join #tmfit or not, the lesson is the same...accountability is an important element of being an effective leader (even if you are just leading yourself to better health) and achieving success. One of the best parts of accountability is answering when you've failed, when you've let yourself or others down. Facing failure is the only way to learn from it, grow from it, and allow it to propel you to your next success. When you make the accountability deeply personal and your hold yourself publicly accountable for the results, you have a winning combination of transparency, motivation, honesty, and commitment, which will almost always lead to far better outcomes.

As an FYI, this needs to get to and remain at 45 lbs for me to reach and maintain my weight goal. 

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

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