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Why Do People Fear Accountability AND Success so Much?


Why Do People Fear Accountability AND Success so Much?

Holding ourselves and others accountable is one of the most important factors in achieving success, no matter what business you are in. The best strategies, plans, products, services, and messaging are doomed to fail without consistent, measurable accountability. In a previous article, I shared my Accountability Loop as a framework for how to create and implement an effective structure within a team or organization. Now I want to address the elephant in the room, the fact that accountability is one of the most feared aspects within business for both employees AND managers.

Why do people fear accountability so much?

Well, actually, it is success that they fear, not accountability. Yes, I said it, success. That seems so counter-intuitive on the surface. Who, in their right mind, would fear being successful? In reality, many people, including a good number of high-performing employees and leaders.

Okay, so back to the question, then why do people fear success? The key aspect here is uncertainty. Success leads to change – more and new clients to serve, a greater impact on your organization, increased stature and more responsibility. Change, in turn, leads to uncertainty – new goals, increased expectations, greater demands on your time. Failure, on the other hand, doesn’t incur any change at all, it leaves us right where we started – status quo. Counter-intuitive, but for many people failure is a more comfortable outcome than success! It isn’t fear of failure that causes accountability avoidance, it is fear of success.

How can you (employee or manager) conquer this fear of accountability/success? Here are 3 quick tips for greater accountability and success:

CLARITY: If success leads to change, and change leads to uncertainty, then it only stands to reason the eliminating as much uncertainty as possible is a good thing. Clarity is the answer. First, make sure you set clear goals and expectations for yourself and for those you lead. A consistent habit of setting clear goals will alleviate the uncertainty of “what’s next” as you reach ever-higher levels of success. It is also good to have clarity in your mind of what success looks like. Picture yourself after having achieved your goals. What does it feel like? How will you celebrate your accomplishment? Create as clear a mental picture of your success as possible as you pursue that goal.

Related: Why the Negative Mindset Toward Sales Needs to Be Changed

POSITIVE MINDSET & SELF-TALK: Otherwise known as the little voice inside your head, the one that enjoys playing the ‘what if’ game all the time. ‘What if’ the prospect doesn’t like me? ‘What if’ they ask a question I can’t answer? ‘What if’ they say “No?” We have all heard that voice far more than we wish. This voice needs to be silenced. Don’t play the ‘What if’ game anymore. Adopt a voice that is positive and realistic. Focus on your accomplishments, what you have done well, your past successes. Know that true harmful risks – our “fight or flight” mechanism – isn’t the little voice in our head, it is our gut feel. So retire the negative voice in your head and adopt the positive voice that will help you succeed.

TAKE ACTION!: You have set clear goals and expectations, you have a great visual of what success looks like, and the voice in your head is big, bold, and positive. The #1 way to get past ‘What if’ is to take action and moving forward to ‘What is!’

With this 3-step approach there is no need to fear accountability, or success. Taking the time to add clarity to your goals and expectations, being mindful of your self-talk and key in on the positive, and taking action will lead you onward and upward with a fearless success mindset!

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