Changing Our Perceptions of Accountability

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.” - Bob Proctor

Trainers function in the world of fitness the same way an addiction sponsor, military superior, or college professor function in their respective environments. They are there to support a task that might - at times - feel bigger than oneself. The success of a fitness trainer and trainee is an effort of accountability between two (or more) individuals. Trust is involved, and without it, a person’s efforts are done almost entirely in vain. A lot can be accomplished solo in life, but there is a hard line that everyone reaches - and cannot pass - without accountability of some sort.

Accountability begins with a partial surrender. It’s the willingness to let go of a piece of personal control and to rely on someone else to hold up that part of your life WITH you. The trusting relationship with an accountability partner is a joint effort; just as most people are unable to complete very difficult tasks alone, neither can your partner take up the reigns on your whole life and steer you to success. Accountability is a balance between answering to someone else for your successes and failures and being accountable to yourself.

The old adage is that an individual can form a new habit (big or small) in 21 days. New research has shown that depending on the habit, the actual range is two to eight months (a). The reality is that anything that takes that much time is going to require some self-accountability. Over the difficult days of building a new habit - a new fitness routine for example - there will be times when your accountability partner won’t be around to encourage you. Those are the times when self-accountability comes into play. When you and your partner set goals there should be rewards and consequences. Just as a missed work assignment warrants penalty and a job well done a reward, so should a misstep or achievement in your accountability plan.

The biggest misconception people have is that accountability is a sign of weakness. We live a world of do-it-yourselfers and while some tasks can be accomplished with that mindset, the hardest (and usually most important and rewarding) cannot. According to J. Mueller, in order to replace the judgement of weakness with power, we must also see that there are common guidelines within accountability - set measurements for every goal (b). The successful partnerships are not based on judgement, but instead a goal that a team works at with great effort until completion.

The encouragement here is that accountability can and should be a strength and tool for success in life and in this case, fitness. Without the accountability partnerships that I have had in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today and wouldn’t be able to join with people to help them achieve their successes. Everyday I have people who I lean on and people who lean on me. It’s one of the greatest gifts of accountability: passing on the strength and endurance that someone else has pushed you to gain.

(a) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.674/abstract
(b) http://www.the-american-interest.com/2015/08/03/the-costs-of-accountability/