The following was originally posted to Paragonfire.


Accountability partner.

It’s such a hot phrase in leadership and personal development. In careers. In fitness. In life.

Turns out, partnerships are often doomed from the start. Let me explain…

I have always loved a good accountability partner program. The idea that I will uphold and achieve my goal by communicating with others who make sure I keep moving forward. This could be a workout, choosing healthy foods that fuel me, completing a project or writing a book.

But, there’s a painful truth I have reflected on lately. I am terrible at it.

I tried to maintain an accountability group, yet it slowly dissolved like my ice on this hot, 100 degree Nebraska day. I was assigned an accountability partner for a class – we tried, but those emails have often been simply one more item on my to-do list, not a fruitful relationship. I declined to join a fitness challenge by admitting that this is a weakness of mine.

Why am I a bad accountability partner?

Truth is, by definition, a partner cannot help you with accountability.

According to Merriam-Webster, accountability is: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.

One’s actions.

Accountability is really about deciding to own up to our own actions. So often, accountability partners arise to support achieving something hard. A personal goal that will take work. Hard work. Willpower. Commitment.

And there you have it.

Are you REALLY committed to the goal? You are accountable for the choice to eat the cake or the salad, to head to the gym or choose to binge watch Netflix. No external force will oblige you to make these choices. No one else can increase your willingness to do it. Accountability is internal. The only person who we can partner with is ourself. This is why the partnerships often fail. The only avenue to true success is to have two willing, committed partners who will cheer on the other when they struggle and clap for each accomplishment.

No one can be your accountability crutch. 

Do you let yourself down? Do you not achieve your goals because you haven’t been completely willing to do what it takes? Think long and hard about why. Reflect on if you are truly committed. Are you willing to accept your choices and actions (or lack thereof)?

The best partner you can have is yourself. Accountability is showing up for YOU, each and every day. Don’t let yourself down!