I have three or four new blog entries spinning in my head, but this one just keeps coming up. Not just in business situations, but in home life too. Accountability is a big thing, and it really is the core of what makes people successful in life. If you're not accountable, not even to yourself, then you're just drifting in the wind, which might sound fun but in this world it's very dangerous. The wind could send you almost anywhere. I've seen it many times.
Some people complain about the military mindset, that hard-nosed way of making people accountable, but it does have its advantages. Realistically, without that mindset, and practicing it constantly, our armed forces wouldn't be able to project the power that they do. While there is a lot of training, technology, and taxpayer dollars involved, none of it could happen without accountability.
What does it mean to be accountable, hold people accountable, and even hold yourself accountable? Well, it starts with an alarm clock every morning. If you're accountable to yourself, your business, your team, your life, then when that alarm goes off, you get up out of bed and start preparing yourself for the day. If you're not accountable then you hit snooze until the alarm clock gives up on you, and so do your business, your team, and your life. The situation just grows from there, but hopefully you understand what I mean.
If you're a regular employee at a fast food restaurant, you're accountable to your manager to make sure you arrive at work on time and have cared for yourself in such a way that you're ready to work. You've taken care of yourself (cleaned yourself up, dressed properly, etc.) and put yourself in the right state of mind. Then you're accountable to make sure that all of the tasks you're assigned are performed to a good standard. You're also accountable to every customer you serve, to make sure they're served well and walk away knowing you've done your best.
If you're that regular employee's manager, then you're accountable to make sure that employee is held accountable for all of the above tasks, and also hold yourself to the same standards. You're also accountable to make sure the team interacts in appropriate ways to serve customers and the business owners in such ways they they know you're meeting goals and moving the business forward in a professional manner.
This is oversimplification, but if you think about it, that's a LOT of accountability!
So what if you're someone like me, who runs his own business, seemingly free to make decisions and efforts at a whim, free to drift in the wind if you want? How does that work? Well, I can honestly say that a lot of people, some of them close to me, tend to subconsciously think that I actually AM free to do just that. In some ways it's my own fault, because when they've needed me I've found ways to help out. There wasn't a need to beg the boss for time off, so I just did it. However those actions always come with consequences, which is where I HAVE to be accountable in big ways. When those situations come up, I have to ask myself if things will be any worse if I let them sit until the workday is done and my customers and business priorities are well-served. When I ask an accountable question like that, then my answer tends to change.
There are thousands of similar situations that come up while running a business. Life outside of business has thousands of opportunities to get distracted, too. If we don't set goals that have teeth (like dates and times for them to be accomplished), then we end up drifting a little, or maybe a lot.
Every spring I go through the previous year's records. I compare the accomplishments to the previous year's goals. I identify where things fell short, and make hard decisions as to how to fix the shortfalls. I look at that data for opportunities to grow and improve. I look at all of this like I am my boss, because "being your own boss" means you're your own boss. It means you HAVE to hold yourself accountable, and be accountable to yourself.
This year I'm now three months into resetting the entire structure of accountability for myself. I'm tightening up the structure of how I go through each day, each week, each month. I'm creating lists of things that have to be accomplished, with due dates for each item. I'm determined for Amerivet Services to meet more goals this year than it has ever met. The only way for that to happen is for me to be accountable, and find people who are willing to be accountable with me.
Amerivet Services already provides exceptional service in every way possible. I always believe that as a person or business you should always get better, even if you're the best. If you're not growing then you're drifting in the wind.
Speaking of drifting in the wind, check out this chandelier I made from two antique hay forks: