Accounting For Your Victory
One of the most powerful stories in history is of a shepherd who, upon counting his sheep back at the fold, notices one of his lambs is missing. Facing the dangers in the dark of night and a buffeting storm, he retraces his steps until he finds the lamb and returns it safely.
Those who know the story well realize it is parable for the creator of the universe stepping forward to save the souls of his beloved children. You won’t mind, will you, if I tell you that it is a tale about counting what counts and acting for impact?
There is phenomenal power in counting and recounting. As our ancient story reveals there can even be life and death power.
All by itself, the word “count” just means to follow the 1, 2, 3 numerical sequence, attaching consecutive numbers to something like apples or sheep or sales calls, etc. Funny though, the moment you place it behind the two letters ‘re’ and turn it into “recount” it leans towards being a story.
An account is exactly the same. It can be a place you keep your cash at a bank. Or it can be an explanatory story delineating what occurred and why.
This brings us to accountability, which is actually something of a strange word. We take a bit of storytelling, mix it up with numbers, and convert it all into something that resides in your character as a virtue. It even exists as a bond between one who performs and one who observes, who oversees.
Stranger still, if we avoid accountability at work, we might get fired or lose a promotion. If we embrace it, it’s almost like the magic pill to guarantee good relationships and growing performance.
Our resistance is easy to understand. It’s no different than resisting any virtue and embracing any vice. We’re told the spirit is willing, but the body is weak, and nowhere more so than over the virtue of accountability!
I’ve been studying this phenomenon throughout my professional life. For my money, there’s a single greatest factor confusing us: a complete misunderstanding of the right way to set a goal. A proper goal breaks down into two elements that most of us get completely wrong.
First, we do not apply true deadlines – I call them To-The-Minute Deadlines. And second, we do not establish the line between success and failure in an absolute way, which I call To-The-Unit Minimums.
If you leave the slightest slack in your goal such that hitting it the next day is okay, you will never accept that you missed your deadline and therefore failed.
So also, with the goal itself. A realistic goal that gets you in the neighborhood is not a bad thing in its own right. The problem is that when it comes to accountability, an absolute minimum is necessary. It has to be black and white: you succeeded, OR you failed.
It’s good to avoid failures by actually succeeding. The problem is we play with the words by preventing anything from being defined as a failure.
Fools we are. Inside a properly defined failure there sits, waiting, the most perfect lesson for improving performance in the entire world. It is your failure. It is your lesson. And it applies 100% to the goal you set for yourself. The act of analyzing your failure in search of its hidden lesson for victory is the very heart of accountability.
Failure analysis? It can be this simple.
What went wrong?
What might I try to fix it?
In the coming year as it unfolds, your account of yourself is where victory or defeat awaits you. Don’t resist the very thing that will win you all you desire.