So, the conversation went something like this.
Me: Hey, let’s go work out.
Wife: (Begrudgingly) Ooookay.
Me: Welp, you said earlier that you wanted to build on the momentum of getting back into your workout routine.
Wife: You just used my words against me!
Me: Yup. But I also think of it as being your accountability partner. So, let’s go (insert loving smile)!
To be clear, it was a light-hearted moment and the love of my life came willingly. After a good workout, she thanked me, we went home, got cleaned up, and went out on a great date. Just know that we are each other’s accountability partners. Halima reminds me of projects I say I will do and the two of us are so much better for it.
Having an accountability partner of any sort isn’t easy. They keep us on track with all of the grand stuff that we say we want to accomplish. After all, we opened our big mouths and talked about these big dreams of ours, somebody who cares said they would help us get there, and we foolishly agreed to let them do it. And we should love them to pieces for it. Having a career accountability partner is different, because it's a long term commitment. Someone is in your ear consistently over a course of years, months and sometimes days just so that you can stay on top of your game.
How can you make the career accountability partner relationship work, though? Here’s what you do:
Make a note of exactly where you need help being accountable.
Journaling can be a life saver when it comes to reaching goals. I love journaling, because writing my thoughts down allows me to sort out what I want to do and why I want to do it. This is often how I organize my life and it is also how I identify my blind spots.
Putting it all on paper and taking an honest look at my weaknesses is how I determined where I wanted my wife to be my career accountability partner, and it has worked like a charm. The trick is to match someone else’s strengths with your weaknesses. Be warned, however, that someone who is strong won’t let you off the hook when you start falling short on your steps.
Make sure your partner is more than a “hype man.”
In rap, there is the ever-lovable “hype man.” During performances, the hype man gets the audience excited—hyped—and also helps to embellish the rapper’s rhymes with interjections and supporting vocals. It’s great to have a hype man, but hype has a limited shelf life. You need someone who has the vision and energy to work closely with you behind the scenes. There’s research that says being specific about your success accountability partner increases your chances of success by 95 percent. Make sure you have someone is more than a hype person.
Sometimes it helps to have diverse perspectives on your path to success. In fact, I would argue that diverse perspectives can be powerful. This especially helps if your career starts to take a turn and you need someone to give feedback that is specific to your field. You may need a change of pace in accountability. When you’re feeling beaten down, for example, turn to the funny accountability partner. But be careful not to make your squad too big. Too many voices can produce more noise than motivation.
Keep your identity and value in perspective.
Pursuing career goals can get tricky, because most of us get to a point when we decide that we will “do anything” to meet those goals. That means abandoning your dignity. Your dignity is the last line of defense to protecting the integrity of your soul. It is how you maintain a firm sense of who you are and the true value you bring to those around you. On top of keeping you on track to achieve your goals, a good career accountability partner makes sure you maintain your dignity in the process.
Having a career accountability partner is all about having that person, or people, to keep you focused on what you said you want to achieve. Neither anyone nor anything is perfect, so be thoughtful about who you choose and be honest with yourself about how badly you want to meet your goals. In the end, your accountability partner(s) will only be as effective as you allow them to be.