Achieving Results and Happiness: Death of the Ego Enables Accountability

08/22/2016 04:41 pm ET

Accountability is one of the most discussed, yet incorrectly applied, attributes linked to personal and career happiness and success.  We work diligently to ‘hold ourselves accountable’ like it’s a reminder on our calendar, yet we remain stuck and frustrated because we allow our normal, human failures to provide us an excuse to quit and derail our desired results. 

What we often do next, and conventional wisdom tells us that it’s helpful to do this, is to vent our frustrations. This usually starts as a “got a minute?” but turns into 45 minutes of justifying our reasons for quitting and detailing the circumstances that kept us from meeting our goal.  The next story we start believing is, “This will be easier when ____,” spiraling a delay in our actions while we wait for perfect circumstances. As an unconscious result, we lower our goal standards which makes it difficult to ‘hold ourselves accountable’ to our highest potential, which is why results and happiness become elusive.

We need to think differently about accountability. Accountability means death of the ego and closing open calls for venting. Venting is the ego’s way of avoiding self-reflection.  We have told people for years that venting helps, if you need to get opinions off your chest, find a friend or colleague to vent to. Daily venting feels good, well, so does a retail therapy binge, but it’s not a sustainable lifestyle. The minute of venting, turned into 45 minutes of wasted energy, results in drama and enables feelings of victim-hood. It leaves us unprepared to adapt to necessary life circumstances and habits required for the health and profitability of our families and workplaces.

Venting is the ego’s way of avoiding self-reflection.

 According to New York Times bestselling author, Shawn Achor, 90 percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. Therefore, trying to practice accountability while attempting to operate within perfect circumstances is an insane practice. It’s a shortsighted strategy that won’t provide a long-term solution and is simply a waste of your precious time and energy - a high price to pay for busy professionals who are short on both.

Helpful Hints to Hardwire Accountability

A helpful tip to consider while building a highly accountable and resilient mindset is to remain neutral in challenging experiences, accept coaching and feedback, and practice self-reflection.

Until that neutral, yet thriving state is reached, individuals rely on ego. And the ego is the age equivalent of a two-year old.  The ego can’t multi-task: vent and self-reflect at the same time because the ego only thinks of itself. Imagine it this way, you can drag a two-year old across the room with a sippy cup if you attempt to grab the sippy cup from her hand. So to disarm the two-year old of her cup (the ego), you can’t simply grab the cup away, you have to replace the cup by offering something else, like a toy. So goes the ego. You can’t vent (cup) and be in self-reflection (toy) at the same time.

This story illustrates that to hardwire accountability and realize happiness and success, you must first disarm the ego by pausing for thoughtful self-reflection and questioning what you believe to be true. Accountability means death to the ego. Fundamental Reality-Based Leadership philosophies to help cultivate an accountable mindset include:

  • Asking for feedback, remain neutral and self-reflect. Hardwiring accountability means developing great mental processes needed to eliminate self-imposed suffering and choosing to be accountable for committing to results, no matter the circumstances.

  • Surrounding yourself with colleagues and friends who practice highly accountable thinking and behaviors. Rather than trying to change individuals who suffer from a victim mindset, it’s better to be a magnet to like-minded individuals.

  • Cultivating an accountable mindset, which takes time and intentional effort. It requires a relentless focus on self-development and an accountable, reality-based mentor who doesn’t let you off the hook when it comes to accounting for results.

Still confused if you embody and lead with personal accountability? Perhaps it’s easier to recognize its absence. Simply look for the presence of drama, entitlement thinking, and lackluster results in your life, family, or work teams.

To learn more about hardwiring accountability into your life and work teams, including the gift of building a culture that attracts highly accountable talent, visit www.realitybasedleadership.com.

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