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The ‘Accountability Partner’ concept – should you have one?

The concept of the ‘Accountability Partner’ made popular in the 90s is making a come back. More or less. The questions you have to ask yourself are:
1. Are they a good idea and
Should YOU have one?

What does YOUR gut tell you? Do you think it would be beneficial to work with an accountability partner if you don’t do so already? How intimately do you know YOUR own personality in order to make a good judgement call?

As with almost ANYshould you” or “should you NOT” question, the subject of having an accountability partner is…well…subjective, and of course the best I can do is to offer you my opinion! And that’s what I intend to do with in this article.

The short version of my answer? A resounding…


Accountability partners are bunk – here’s why

Reason 1. A Question of Drive

My first argument against accountability partners comes in the form of a question:

If paying your rent/mortgage were contingent on you taking the necessary actions to get your business up and going (the actions you say you need an accountability partner for), then how much time would you be wasting talking to your accountability partner asking them to motivate you?

Hopefully your answer would be – NONE! Why? Because your A$$ would be too busy getting S–T done to stop and call your accountability partner, that’s why! You would have “found” that drive within yourself – which is the goal anyway.

*Keep in mind, I am referring to accountability partners as they relate to business but the concept is the same for business, fitness or any other goal.

Reason 2. A Few Good Men!

The second part of my argument is a quote from a famous movie:


As iconic as that movie line is, most people don’t realize that it is speaking directly to THEM and not to Tom Cruise or the jury from A Few Good Men! Face it. Most of us really CAN’T handle the truth – especially about ourselves.

In fact, on the rare occasion that a person IS willing to hear the truth, they will generally find it easier to swallow when it comes from a mostly objective 3rd party. Unfortunately, most people choose an accountability partner based on a handful of people that they already know and have befriended to a certain extent. In other words, their accountability partner is RARELY an objective 3rd party (think good quality life coach). Anyway…baaad idea!

Reason 3. Justification vs Accountability

And finally – as a general rule, people don’t want to actually, truly be held accountable. For anything. What they REALLY want is for someone to help them justify their excuses. Period.

(Does this seem too harsh? Then please see Reason 2, above. You may be having a hard time handling the truth.)

If you think that a conversation with an Accountability Partner might sound like one of the following statements, then there’s a good chance my argument holds water.

“Awwww, you were really tired last night after you put the kids to bed? That’s ok. It happens to everyone. Better luck tomorrow.”

“Your bed was really really cozy when the alarm went off and you just couldn’t get out from under the covers? The same thing happened to me this morning, too. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“I understand…there was a great movie on NETFLIX last night. No problem! Better luck tomorrow.”

Get the idea? Most of the time it really has little to do with being held accountable and far more to do with commiserating. Either that or it’s about walking on eggshells around a person that can’t handle constructive criticism.

What’s the alternative to Accountability Partners?

My solution is brief. If you aren’t “motivated” enough on your own without having to have an accountability partner, then what you are REALLY lacking is a TRUE connection to your “WHY”. You don’t need an outside influence to push you – you need to reconnect with what drove you towards your given endeavor in the first place!

Your “WHY” could be positive (moving towards something), or it could be negative (moving away from something). For example you may have started an exercise program so that you could confidently compete in next year’s 10k feeling wonderful and full of confidence in yourself – OR – you may have started an exercise program because you were sick and tired of feeling out of breath at the top of the stairs.

In either case your motivation, or your WHY, is an INTERNAL thing and the more you feel a connection TO that WHY the more likely you are to follow through. It’s ALL ABOUT CONNECTING TO YOUR WHY. And THAT, in my humble opinion, is what you need to do more of if you are not being consistent with the change you say you want to make.

For those already working with an Accountability Partner

If you’re already in some kind of accountability partner relationship, does any of what I have said ring true for you? My guess is that it probably does.

What to do?

Imagine yourself if you will, 5 years from now still following the same course. If you are the exception to the rule, at least the rule as I have observed it, and you have an accountability partner that is REALLY keeping you accountable then simply ignore everything I have said and delete this article from your skull!

If, however, anything I have said resonates with you then maybe the thing to do is to just simply take some time and feeeeeel out your WHY. It might just be that simple.

What say you?

In this article I have briefly discussed my thoughts on having an accountability partner. I’ve focused mostly on why I see them as largely non-beneficial, but what are YOUR thoughts? This IS about YOU at the end of the day anyway, right? I would love to hear from you on this topic. Perhaps there’s an angle I am not considering. Leave a comment below if the spirit moves ya!

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Marc is a Dad, a Web Designer, a Creator of Branding and an occasional blogger . (and probably in that order!) with some affiliate marketing thrown in for good measure.

He owns Thirsty Fish Graphic Design, A one-man web design biz., based in Corning, NY which is in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate NY.

He enjoys physical fitness and healthy eating to an annoying degree, playing guitar, playing piano, sketching and most of all hanging with his daughter doing just about anything!

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