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The Truth About Accountability

85% of people reading this article will not achieve what they aim to this year. It’s not that they’re not capable, it’s not that they can’t, it’s simply that there is a gap between their intention and their actions

As the old saying goes, “Everyone wants to succeed until they realise what it takes

Thing is, success isn’t actually that hard. Many books have explored the gap between success and mediocrity, including Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, Business Brilliant by Lewis Schiff and many, many more.

There have been studies into the truth about success, busting myth after myth and proving that success is often a lot easier to achieve than people realise, with one consistent finding coming through each time.

The common thread in all success stories is action.

I’ve heard it time and time again, from athletes and business people who’ve spoken at our events, from advisers who have achieved success within and outside their field, from world-class experts and those who are held up to be achievers.

You can’t succeed without action.

It seems so simple, but stay with me. It’s a point I wish I’d learnt earlier.


Once upon a time, I was en route to play professional rugby. At the age of 18, I was playing for Bristol, in the same team as others who I’d later watch on the TV representing their countries.

I had talent, I enjoyed the game but I was small, physically, by rugby standards.

My Dad, who at that point was my sole parent, took me one day on a car ride to the other side of Bristol. We pulled up outside an old boxing gym and in we went together. He introduced me to the owner, who for some reason I always see in my mind as the old trainer from Rocky, and then he left me.

This was the answer to my future career prospects, only I didn’t know it.

I went to that gym once, Needless to say, when I played my final game of rugby at 25, it wasn’t as an international athlete.

I don’t blame myself or anyone else. There were many factors that lead to my non-career, but not realising that only I could make it happen was one them.

They showed me the weights, but no one showed me how to be accountable to myself. That came later

I have a special interest in this topic at this time of year. It’s the time of year where everyone has had some downtime, is full of fresh ideas for the new year and wants to make things different. It’s the time for new years resolutions, and all that comes with that.


 “You either make yourself accountable or be held accountable by your circumstances”


If you’d like to make 2019 the kind of year where everything went right, accountability is one of your most important levers, and in sharing this post I’m going to draw from three of the best texts written on the topic.

  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink is one,
  • Accountability by Bustin is another.
  • Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap is the third.

There are three areas in which you can put accountability into play

  1. Your team, who are going to need your leadership
  2. Your clients, who are going to need some guidance
  3. Yourself, who needs it to do the previous two.

The truth is my strongest motivation for this is about you. If you’re reading this as a client, we both share the strong desire to see you get a result from our work together, but to do this requires us to work together.

If you’re reading this as a non-client, then knowing how to make it happen requires you to understand how this works doubly so.


There are three things that I see commonly stopping people like you from doing what they say they will.

    • The first is time. This is one that can stir up emotions because we’ve all been in that situation where we feel rushed. It’s not nice and it rarely means we’re operating at our best. It puts us in fight or flight mode, sometimes making it hard to recognise the difference between what’s important vs urgent. You’ve had clients tell you “I don’t have time”, even though you know that time is exactly the issue.
    • The second is not being able to put things into action. Sometimes it’s because of a genuinely missing skillset, but other times it’s tied to the first one. Not being able to invest the thinking in how to make it happen, or having the focus.
    • The third is believing success is about slow, incremental progress. For a bunch of reasons we’ll discuss later, often people sabotage themselves into thinking that rapid progress isn’t possible and they settle in for the long haul. The end result can actually be very detrimental. It’s the belief that success is far away that will kill your energy, motivation and, in the worst cases, you.


“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.”    


The truth is different. You make time.

Einstein’s theory of relatively proved that how fast time passes is entirely controlled by your perception of it. Yep, let that swill around for a moment. As he famously said when explaining relativity to a young student, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

If your plan over the next 12 months is to live in the mindset that says they’re aren’t enough hours in the day, guess what’s going to happen. Time isn’t something that happens to you, you’re not a victim to it. How you spend it is the key factor.

You see, woo woo stuff aside, the stories you tell yourself matter. If you believe the plan to change everything in just 12 short months is too ambitious, you’ve literally started by anti-pitching the one person in the world who has to believe otherwise.

To make huge gains, to genuinely have a year that proves that the ceiling you’ve set may not exist, you have to believe it first.

To be the catalyst for the change you want, to master the skills you need, take action. If you don’t know how you need to ask ‘who’.

Otherwise, there is no Plan A.


So, let’s take a moment. How do you want 2019 to play out for you?

Are you willing for 2019 to be a year where things go right for you, your business and your life?

If the answer to that is a deep, emotional yes, then go the next question. Let’s take it up a notch.

Are you willing for 2019 to be the year where things go well all the time?

It’s this point the voices may start to appear. “That’s unrealistic”, or “Be practical”. Yes, I know that things “can’t” go well all the time, but look again at the question. I’m not asking you to make things go well all the time, just whether you’re open to the idea.

If you’re not willing to be open to it, then how can you even get close to it?

Final question.

Are you willing to have 2019 be the year where you made a huge leap forward in terms of success, growth, money, personal fulfilment and more?

If so, you’re ready to start. All that will stop you is you.

Or specifically, what you choose not to do.

Here’s where the experts come in, and these are 4 key ingredients you need to go from wanting it, to doing it, to having it.


#1 – Purpose

Greg Bustin’s book Accountability made one big observation that hit home with me. – Accountability Starts with Purpose.

Before you can hold others accountable, you must hold yourself accountable. For you to be accountable, you need to know what matters most to you. You need to know your bigger, brighter future.

In my world, that means something called a Strategy Focus Map. If you’re reading this as a client and you haven’t reviewed yours in the last six months, go find it now. You need to be clear about the end game, your motivation for all this, otherwise it won’t be enough that you promise me or your peers you’ll do it. You need to want it.

#2 Your Zone

Hendricks put forward an idea I agree with totally, one that is the basis of my answer whenever people ask about retirement.

I don’t believe I will ever retire. My goal is that each year I am doing more of the things I love, less of the things I don’t. Eventually “work” will be nothing but the things I love.

It’s about understanding:

  • What do you love to do?
  • What doesn’t feel like work?
  • What work makes you smile even when you get to do it for short periods?
  • What is your unique talent?

This requires you to go deep. It’s not enough to just say, “I like seeing clients’. You need to go deeper than that, to find the essence of the moment you’re living in your zone, and make a commitment to 2019 being the year you stayed there more than ever.

#3 Time.

Imagine this scenario.

You’re working on your computer when a child comes in. She is full of life.”Play with me”, she says.

I don’t have time right now”, you reply. “I’ll play with you later

Scenario 2. Same situation, but instead the child comes in. “I’ve stepped on a nail”, she says, blood dripping from her foot.

You help immediately, right? So, what’s the difference? I’ll tell you. The difference is you lied the first time. You should have said, “I’d like to finish my work before I play with you”.

It’s your choice.

You will never have enough time to do all the things you feel you need to. The issue is that most people’s mindsets are focused on scarcity – our over-advertised upcoming has seen to that – which means you’re often focusing on the lack of something.

We have all become victims of time.

  • I wish I had more time…
  • Where did the time go?
  • There simply aren’t enough hours…
  • If only I had another hour to work on it
  • I don’t have time for that.

One of my favourite Heath Ledger stories comes from a friend of his who shared a flat with him in LA, pre-fame. He tells of Heath coming to him one night at a bar, asking to borrow $50, smiling that movie star smile.

As soon as the money had been lent, Heath went to the bar and bought a $50 round of drinks.

Why? Because he viewed the world from the lens of abundance. He didn’t see $50 that needed to be hoarded, he saw a room full of relationships that mattered more. He saw the next $50 wouldn’t be far away. He was right.

Next time you feel too busy, understand you will never have enough time. Slow down, stare out the window and choose to do what matters, knowing you will find the time because you are the creator of it.

Be the God of your Own Time.

#4 Meet Halfway

 “On good teams, coaches hold players accountable, on great teams players hold players accountable.”   

Joe Dumars

Everyone says they want to be kept accountable. It’s a half-truth.

The whole truth is people don’t want me on the phone every day, texting, emailing them, reminding them they haven’t done it. What happens then is the same as that motivational poster on the wall no one pays attention to anymore or, worse, we end up with a negative feedback loop, where you’d rather chew glass than report back to me on your non-action.

I’ve employed several ways to keep clients accountable.

  • 90 Day Plans
  • Our Racing Line Implementation System
  • SMS reminders.
  • Accountability dashboards.
  • Fortnightly phone calls.
  • Project tracking in Teamwork.

The list goes on. None of it works unless you are willing to turn up.

To paraphrase Chief Brabon, “No one is going to do your push-ups for you if you don’t decide to come to Bootcamp

Importantly, if you’re reading this as a client, I will be doing my damnedest to make sure you and I know what you want and need and you have access to the resources to make it easy to do, but I need you to meet me halfway

Many of you will know all about the Let Us Know List. It’s the visual tool I suggest you share with your clients every quarter, reminding them of 16 life events that mean they should pick up the phone.

Well, this version is for you. It’s the Let Me Know list. If any of this happens, we should talk:

  1. Anything that happens if your business that may require a change of plan.
  2. Significant changes to revenue and/ or profitability.
  3. Significant changes to expenses.
  4. Changes to ownership structure within your business, including partnership disputes.
  5. Events outside of work that may impact your progress (e.g illness).
  6. Sudden loss or influx of clients.
  7. Compliance issues or other License related changes.
  8. Plans in the works for significant capital purchases.
  9. Changes to your team (ie. new employees, new roles)
  10. Significant changes to marketing strategy and/or target market.
  11. Feeling overwhelmed, unclear on how to progress or generally falling off the pace.
  12. Needing a good kick up the arse and/or some love to get moving again.
  13. Any other loss of focus or enthusiasm for building the business you want.



There’s more – and if you’re reading this as a program member Accountability Academy is one module you should take some time to review before it’s too late – but for the time being let’s finish with the words of John Di Lemme…

“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.” 

2019 is yours. All you need to do is take it.


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