Accountability: Double Dose

A fellow coworker (for the sake of keeping this semi-anonymous, let’s call this person Larry) has decided to run a marathon this year.  Not just any particular marathon, he is participating in the Knoxville Manathon, which is held on April 1st.  When Larry first told me about this, I was excited for him and immediately shared this information with other coworkers bragging about his decision to commit to this great challenge.

A few days later Larry showed a level of discomfort when we started discussing his plans in front of a business associate.  When I asked why he had and issue with it, he said:

I would prefer to mention it a day or two before the race.  That way people are surprised.  Plus if I don’t run….

I stopped him mid sentence asked, “What do you mean if you don’t run?”

If this would have been anybody else, I would have cared less; but this guy was different.  For about a year now Larry has started exercising more and has even motivated me to increase my workout regimen.  Without knowing it, Larry had been inspiring me to do better and I wanted to help keep him on track.

I reminded him that when you mentally commit to something, it is vital to verbally recognize it to an audience.

  • You have openly acknowledged what you plan on doing, which lays the mental groundwork.
  • Openly expressing it creates a bond with those you share your plan with and thus establishes a level of accountability.

Now that said, here’s the problem, I was out of line.  I tried so hard to keep someone else accountable that I overstepped my boundaries.

If Larry didn’t want to share this information with fellow co-workers, that was Larry’s decision, NOT mine.  For all I know, Larry could have told his friends and family about his decision to run the Knoxville Marathon and they are keeping him motivated.  This was a bad move on my end and I am sorry for how I acted.

Now apply this level of accountability to business.  When you and your company creates a strategic plan, what happens?  Does the plan get created just to keep the Board of Directors off your back for another year, or do you share the plan with those within your organization?  If you choose the latter, then you are starting on the right path, but how are you communicating it in your organization?  Is it positive or is it negative?  Are you openly sharing information that you should be communicating or are you stealing somebody’s thunder?

Since I have given Larry such a hard time, I will share a commitment I have made this year.  In May, I will cycle from Knoxville to Chattanooga in one day.  Larry has been a strong motivator and I am sure he will continue to keep me in check and hold me accountable.

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