Having an Accountability Partner is Like Having an Ace in the Hole

It’s a sometimes subtle, and occasionally unsubtle way of keeping yourself on track.

And here’s the thing… they don’t set your schedule. They aren’t really your coach, although they will work to keep you focused.

They are there for you to have some semblance of accountability for the things YOU said YOU were going to do.

They are not hostile to one another, nor are they condescending. One other thing that we have to get out right away is that they are also not judgemental.

An accountability partner doesn’t take you to task for not completing the things you said you were going to do, they are only there to listen to why you didn’t do them and help you find a way to get more done… if asked to do so.

The two of you form a partnership in which you agree, mutually, to coach and provide the best feedback you can on a regular, even a scheduled, basis. Whether you make the meetings daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, the agreement is to share the previous time frame. What happened with you that was great. What happened that wasn’t so great, and what challenges are you both currently facing?

That is why they call it an accountability partner, not an accountability coach.

Coaching is different and we are not going there with this.

This is not like meeting your goals. Goals will fail us most of the time.

  1. Everybody has goals. Winners have goals. Losers have goals. Average, poor, and excellent producers have goals. Often the goals are the same. So goals bring nothing to the table.
  2. Goals can be a flash in the pan. We set a goal for something and by hard work we reach it. Now what? It is but a fleeting moment, then we have to work out what our next goal will be. And our next.
  3. Goals will ultimately defeat you. If you set a goal and reach it, then face the emptiness of that goal you can become disenchanted. Worse, if you do not reach the goal you begin to beat yourself up for failing to reach what you thought was an easily attainable milestone.
  4. Goals are not a good fit for long-term stability and growth. You reach your goal of sending out 3 contacts per day. And you bask in that until you find out your competition is sending out 5 contacts per day. A system of creating small, easily measured actions to be done over and over again makes you stronger. And since there is no expected ROI, you can expand or increase those actions whenever you want.

What we need is a system.

WHY ACCOUNTABILITY?

One of the strongest things we can do when developing a system is to have that system run efficiently. It won’t do it on its own. We need to be constantly working the system in order for it to be a powerful tool we can use to our advantage.

Personal responsibility is the basic framework of any system.

If we fail to become personally responsible, we will fall easily into the “blame game” where we begin to attribute our failures to other people.

“There are too many photographers”, or “clients just don’t want to pay”.

No, you aren’t taking responsibility for getting the work by any means necessary.

I once had a photographer tell me that he was totally confused as to why he had not gotten any jobs. I chatted with him for a while and then asked who he had shown his book to? He told me he had only been in business a little over 6 months and didn’t really have a book to show anyone. And who would he show it to anyway?

He explained there were too many photographers in his area, and one or two of the photographers had all the work sewn up. And then to add to the woes, people with cell phones were getting all the good jobs.

The phone call ended soon after that.

He didn’t want advice or help, he wanted someone to validate his desire to quit. And that wasn’t going to be me. I am not a big fan of quitters.

Had he been accountable for his errors, we could have chatted a bit longer, and developed a system for him to learn the business. Perhaps we could have created a real action plan for becoming engaged in the industry in such a way that he would learn as he goes.

But, you see it wasn’t his fault. It will never be his fault.

An accountability partner can help keep you from that abyss… the blame everyone else abyss.

Sometimes the simplest thing to do is to ask yourself “what am I doing — or not doing — in my system to help me grow and engage with clients?”

Then ask your accountability partner. They will have been monitoring you and will have some good follow-up on what they see you are doing with your system.

Never be judgy, just be a sounding board and someone who can look in from the outside and ask you this question: “What could you do differently in your system to move your business forward?”

An accountability partner doesn’t have the answers, they just need to be there to ask the question so YOU can figure it out. Perhaps they can offer advice drawn from their own accountability issues.

There are plenty of benefits that both of you receive when becoming an accountability partnership;

  1. You get to work with someone who is facing the same conditions and realities that you are. This benefits them and you.
  2. Personal accountability will always trump some sort of electronic device, app, or daily impersonal email.
  3. Accountability partnerships are for the most part free. No one charges since each is benefitting from the other.
  4. How and when you do it are easier to put together because there are just two of you.

Here is how to find an accountability partner for you.

  1. Look for someone you know to be honest and trustworthy and in your same business.
  2. Decide whether you want someone with the same personality as yours or if you want to play off another’s different sort of energy.
  3. Have a serious discussion on each other’s goals. If they do not feel like a match, find someone else.
  4. Set up a good time for consistent communication. Perhaps you use email, or text, every other week, and a voice call / ZOOM in the interim weeks. Whatever works for both of you would be best.
  5. Be very specific about what you want to do. What actions do you want to take and what do you want those actions to generate? Remember to keep the actions to a manageable few and not every single aspect of your life.
  6. What rewards will there be for success? What consequences will there be for not meeting the criteria set forth by them at the beginning?
  7. Agree on a time to meet to discuss progress, realign some results, and change strategies. Remember this must be done as a partnership so both partners know what is actually going on.

THE BENEFITS ARE AMAZING

You will have someone specific to share with.
For one thing, you will have someone to talk to that you trust, and that will be interested in helping you achieve your aspirations. You can seem a little crazy to each other, share doubts and insecurities, and know that your partner is most likely dealing with those same issues.

You will constantly be reminded of your action system.
Knowing that you must now be accountable to someone other than yourself keeps you focused on doing what needs to be done. Rabbit holes become less deep, and work hours become more productive.

Fresh eyes, fresh perspective, and fresh solutions.
A good partner will give you some insights you may have not thought about. A new way of working that you may not have thought about. And your fresh perspective on their challenges may help them — AND help you because when two creative people talk about stuff — cool stuff happens.

Share the knowledge, the experience, and the access you have with another.
It’s like having a strong backup plan, or a partner “on your six” with fresh intel that you may not have been considering. You may not know anyone in finance and have a tax question… your partner may be able to point you in the right direction. Likewise, your partner may need someone to sound off about a confusing RFP, and you may have some experience that could help.

Having someone ‘on your six’ is something that can make us a bit less anxious.
Your accountability partner has a vested interest in helping you succeed. They want you to help them succeed. Working together as a team should make each stronger because of the allied interests of both of you. Words of encouragement, ideas for growth, someone to lean on a bit… all such powerful things to keep us from thinking we are all alone in our struggles.

Celebrating each of your successes with a partner who is vested in you is so sweet!
You land a big-fish client or get the RFP signed without changes and you want to celebrate. One of the first you want to celebrate with is your partner. They have been with you through the tough times as well as working with you when things were great. Being able to convey the excitement to someone who KNOWS what we all go through to get the wins is exceptionally special.

You may make a friend for life.
We all have too many acquaintances and too few friends. An accountability partner can become a friend who carries with them a deeper knowledge of your struggles and your successes can be quite special.

So find your accountability partner and let us know who that is. Perhaps it can be from the group, or perhaps you know of someone who would be a perfect fit for you. However you do it, let’s start off by getting that done.

I would love to hear about you and your accountability partner. I have one, actually with the membership included I have a couple of hundred… heh. And having someone having your back can make the challenges so much easier to tackle.

I am a photographer, designer, and photo editor. You can find me at my self-named website or at Project 52 Pro System where I teach commercial photography online. This is our tenth year of teaching, and it is the most unique online class you will find anywhere.

You can find my books on Amazon, and I have taught two classes at CREATIVELIVE.

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Don Giannatti

Don Giannatti

Designer. Photographer. Author. Entrepreneur: Loving life at 100MPH. I love designing, making photographs and writing.