Internal vs. External Accountability

Today, I want to talk about something I struggled to find online: internal versus external accountability. We know a lot about external accountability. We say to someone, “Hey, will you be my gym partner? Will you be my mentor?” The problem with external accountability is that it is entirely dependent on someone else. But what if that person forgets about your gym session one week? Or what if they move away? If there’s anything that I’ve learned in life, it is that I am more successful when I hold the control of my own destiny.

I didn’t do well in corporate Canada because I couldn’t control my promotions or my progression in the organization. I couldn’t control whether someone thought my idea was good or not. And so because I couldn’t work in that environment anymore, I started my own business. When I first started my business I did a lot of work for the Toronto Real Estate Board where I did a lot of teaching. I depended on that system to provide my income – until the teaching system collapsed. Relying on someone else to make money taught me that if I am going to be successful, I must control as much as possible. That includes keeping myself accountable for the work that I’m doing, for the progress that I’m making and for the goals I am achieving.

What I really try to push people to focus on is not external accountability, but internal motivation. At some point our coaching sessions are going to end – what will happen when you are no longer depending on me to hold you accountable for your output each week? If you don’t continue to work towards the goal you were working on during the coaching, all that hard work goes to waste.

It’s too easy to blame your coach for being sick one day and you weren’t able to get your work done. It’s too easy to blame someone else for the lack of your own success. But an important lesson my mother taught me is that whenever you point a finger, there are three pointing right back at you. You alone are in charge of your own destiny.

So the question becomes how do we develop internal accountability? This one is tricky. Because as I mentioned before, after hours of looking online I couldn’t find anything that satisfied this question. So I decided I would it answer it for you.

In order to determine your internal accountability, I am going to ask you a few questions:

1) What are you fighting for?

What gets you out of bed in the morning? When you have something worth fighting for, you develop the energy and the purpose to propel yourself to constantly be working on that particular thing. Fight for others. Fight for your family, who you want to role model the best behaviors for. Fight for your colleagues, who you want to encourage. Fight for your clients, who you want to see live a better life or have better success at work.

2) What’s your purpose?

Now this is where, again, people get all screwed up with defining purpose because they look at it as defining the meaning of life?

Your purpose needs to be broken down into something very, very simple. What are the outcomes that you’re trying to achieve for those who depend on you? Your purpose can be for your family, it can be for your clients, it could be for your colleagues, it could be for your community. If you need help defining your purpose, I’ve got some videos on creating your purpose statement on my video page.

The next thing I’m going to ask of you is something I got from Dean Graziosi. I want you to outline what your year would look like if everything went perfectly? Now you might have an income goal that you have for there, but I really encourage you when you’re setting down your best year and what your life is going to be like, to not put in things that you have because you’ve had your best year.

If you know what you want, it will be easier to align it with a purpose and it will become what you fight for. Then it’s just figuring out what aligned actions you need to take to get you from where you are now to where you need to get to and the only thing that’s left that you need to add to your arsenal to make sure that this happens is consistency.

Most people rely on other people, external accountability partners, external motivations, but when those are removed or when you’re no longer seeking those out, it all collapses in on itself. However, if you have internal accountability, it will never collapse on you. You will always achieve what you want as long as you know what you’re fighting for, which will give you a purpose. You know exactly what you want your life to be like. The last piece of the success puzzle is to take action. It’s always the last piece of the puzzle and it’s usually the piece people forget, so don’t forget that action piece. You will do the things you want to do because there’s a reason for you to do it. There’s a purpose you’re fighting for and it’s important to you.

I hope you guys have found this helpful. Please do go ahead and check out other blogs and other stuff that I’ve got on my website or on my Facebook page. I really try to share as much of this as possible. Nearly everyone who comes to me for help is struggling with internal motivation and internal accountability, which is why I wanted to share it with you guys today.