On November 16th, I’ll be introducing the world to my new book, Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success. Most of you reading this know that when I say business, I really mean life…and hands down, one of the most important ingredients for personal and professional success is accountability.
For the third stop on the Road to Twelve and a Half blog series, I’ll be breaking down why accountability is actually my favorite ingredient right now. Of course, all 13 traits matter equally, but they ebb and flow in terms of how focused I am on them at any given moment. Six to eight years ago, for example, I didn’t talk about accountability in my content all that much. On the other hand, today, I’m completely convinced that accountability is maybe the most significant path to happiness.
Keep reading to see why I’m so bullish on this particular trait!
WHAT IS ACCOUNTABILITY?
The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.
Last week, we talked about self-awareness, and accountability is the perfect trait to follow up. I actually believe self-awareness and accountability go hand in hand.
More importantly, when you lean into accountability, your life gets happier!
WHY ACCOUNTABILITY IS THE SECRET POTION FOR HAPPINESS
Yes, it’s that important! When you hold yourself accountable, it leads to solutions; it helps you maintain a position of control instead of being a victim. It diffuses the tension in arguments because both people stop attacking each other and look at themselves instead.
Think about it, if you make everything your fault (without beating yourself up, of course), then you are also the person with the power to change things around.
So many of you right now – in this exact second – are unhappy because you’re pointing fingers, and feeling a lack of control as a result. The lack of accountability leads to so much bad. If we can prop up accountability instead of shying away from it, all of us will be happier.
In fact, here are 5 Reminders that Accountability Leads to Happiness. This blog from 3 years ago remains just as relevant today.
Making Accountability Cool
One of my biggest hopes for Twelve and a Half is that it helps contribute to changing people’s minds about what it means to be accountable. I want everyone who reads this blog and this book to start making accountability “cool” — just like being “woke” or the grind culture or being an entrepreneur. I think there’s a crazy amount of opportunity here to shift the meaning of accountability in culture.
This clip from 2019 sums it up:
WHY ACCOUNTABILITY IS SO HARD FOR PEOPLE
To put it simply, I think most people hate accountability; they love to point fingers at others, instead of pointing thumbs back at themselves.
There are several reasons for this.
For some, it comes down to self-judgement. Since most people struggle to acknowledge their shortcomings or “halves” — aka the traits they’re not yet good at — without huge amounts of judgment, it’s easier to tell themselves that the problem is with everyone and everything else. That way, it lets them off the hook…they don’t have to feel the “sting” of realizing that they messed up.
2. Fear of Other People’s Opinions
For others, it’s about the fear of what other people think. This is still judgement, but it’s coming from the outside instead of the inside. When you put too much value in other people’s opinions, you’ll do anything to try to control the way you’re perceived — even deflect responsibility. For these people, dodging accountability is almost like armor…they think it keeps them safe, but really, it weighs them down.
“People fear other people’s opinions, so they develop an ego-defense mechanism against their own mistakes. It’s a form of avoidance disguised as a solution.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success.
The truth is that avoiding accountability doesn’t keep you safe from judgement. In fact, while it might work on some, most successful people have high EQs and can see through the bs. Passing blame is never a good look or a good strategy.
Take a listen to this excerpt from the Twelve and a Half audiobook reading. Try to understand how a simple mindset switch from playing the blame game to taking accountability creates more control and happiness in any situation:
HOW TO BUILD ACCOUNTABILITY
Here are a few things you can start doing today to increase your accountability.
Understand this: When you blame others, you’re admitting to yourself that you’re no longer in control
If accountability is one of your halves, it will take time to develop. The good news is that you can start any time. Every conversation, business deal, meeting, argument, mistake, apology, etc. is an opportunity to take responsibility for your part in how things played out and start the process of fixing it.
Change your Perspective
I know what some of you are probably thinking – but Gary, what if it’s really not my fault? What if the problem is above me or shit just happens? I get it, but my challenge to you would then be to change your perspective. Even if the problem you’re looking at seems beyond your control, you’re still in control of how you absorb it.
“It excites me to know that nobody else is in control. If I created the issue, then I have the power to fix it. If I didn’t create the issue and it’s bigger than me or purely circumstantial, I can still decide how I absorb it.” – Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
Lastly, build a habit of training your brain to take ownership by asking questions. For example…
Did I mess up? Yes. → Then, it’s my fault, which means I have the power to fix it.
Did I mess up? No. → Did someone I hired mess up? → Yes. → Then, it’s my fault, which means I have the power to fix it.
Was there something I could have done differently to have avoided the problem? Could I have been more prepared? Could I have moved faster or slower?
If you’re just getting started, building accountability will be like building muscle – it’ll take time. My hope is that the more you do it, the more natural it’ll feel, like a reflex. The less time you spend between the time of the issue and the moment you take accountability, the less time you’ll spend feeling powerless and the quicker you can move on to solutions. 🔑
Holding Myself Accountable
I only say it because I live it, my friends. The reason this book is called Twelve and a Half and not Thirteen is because I’m holding myself accountable for my own weaknesses. It was important to me that I share my “half” with you guys so that you could start to think about yours.
Find someone else to hold you accountable
The above examples are all about how you can take responsibility for yourself, but sometimes the best way to do that is to get the assistance of someone you trust. When you’re accountable to someone outside of yourself, it can be a great motivating force.
For instance, I work so hard for VaynerMedia because I have hundreds of employees. I have a responsibility to those people and I owe it to them to show up with my best every day. Even if you don’t have a business, all of us have roles in our lives where we are responsible for other people. If you’re a parent, you’re responsible for your kids. If you’re a pet owner, you’re responsible for your dog, cat, or bird…Knowing that others are counting on you is a constant reminder to stay accountable.
That being said, there are some areas in our lives that are harder than others. A few years ago, mine was my health. While I was holding myself accountable in business and with family, I was completely neglecting my physical health. After asking myself why, I realized that it was because I lacked that outside source of accountability. So, what did I do? I hired a full-time trainer.
You can find out how I finally got serious about my health here, but ultimately, it boiled down to finding that tactic that would eliminate all excuses and push me to take my health seriously. That tactic was accountability. Why am I sharing this with you? I know holding yourself accountable isn’t the easy route — it’s why so many avoid it. So, if you need that extra motivation, find someone else to hold you accountable.
Just like the caller in that clip, I hope that this blog and this book can be a breakthrough moment for all of you to realize that accountability is always the answer.
Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to share this article with a friend or on your favorite social media platform, and tweet me your thoughts!