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Personal Accountability

April 18, 2024
Personal Accountability

How often do we think of accountability?

We’re accountable to our companies, our bosses, and we’re accountable to our families.

But most importantly, we have to be accountable to ourselves.

Because, at the end of the day, if we’re not accountable, then we’d just have everything like we want it, ignoring everyone else. We’d eat steak, smoke cigars, and watch football all day in the recliner. It’s just a fact of life. The problem is that everyone else would suffer from lone desires because, when we get to the bottom of it, humans are motivated by self-interest.

To avoid living in a world of self, we need to have the right mindset and find ways of checking our status at all times.

There’s a very famous book that you may be familiar with, written over 35 years ago by a gentleman by the name of Dr. Stephen Covey, called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Its contents have been taught in two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies. In 1996, Time magazine named him one of the 25 most influential people.

And he also happened to be a very good friend and mentor of mine.

In fact, when I was in prison 27 years ago, and my dad died, that was the first book I picked up. Now, I didn’t know Stephen Covey at the time. I was devastated by my father dying, so I walked into the prison library (basically a little mop closet) looking for something positive to read because I was in the wrong mindset for several reasons.

My father had died before getting the chance to see me turn my life around, I had abandoned my son by my life choices, and I still had seven years left to go in the joint. So, I was in a pretty bad spot mentally. I knew I needed to make a change, to start doing something different. And so I stumbled into a copy of The 7 Habits.

The book didn’t just change my life. In many respects, it saved my life because I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t stumbled onto this book.

Seven years later I was released from jail and put those teachings to work in my everyday life. I built my first company and later wrote my first book. I went on to meet Dr. Covey. He actually endorsed my first two books. One of his sons wrote the forward to my most recent book, Consistency Selling.

We went on to have a very close relationship, and I’m a very big fan of his work in The 7 Habits. Today, I want to touch on personal responsibility, which coincidentally is habit number one of the seven habits—to be responsible and accountable for ourselves.

Covey explained it better in his book than I can in this short article, so I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself. He says that in life, we have things that constantly come at us, right? And sometimes, it’s really difficult stuff. We can have difficult people or customers, maybe the weather’s not cooperating, the economy is not cooperating, or maybe we’re getting into an argument with our wife. The reality is all these things are coming at us in life.

And it’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing those bad things determine our results. And what I’ve learned, as Dr. Covey has taught for 40 years before he passed away, is that it’s how you respond to that bullshit that determines your outcomes. So, this was a real eye-opening experience for me. It changed me, and so I live by a very simple acronym today: CPA.

I Cause, Permit, or Allow everything in my life to happen.

I never blame anything or anybody for my situation or my results. I caused it, permitted it, or allowed it. And to me, that is the ultimate sense of freedom.

In your situation in life, if you think things suck because of your income, your marriage, your ex-wife, your parents, because of whatever, that means those things have to change before you have a better life. Yet you may not have any control over those things, so their chance of changing isn’t great.

No one’s changing for us. People barely change for themselves.

So, in my situation in business or in sales, if you don’t like your results, if you don’t like your income, you’re in luck because your paycheck is your report card because it reflects how well you’re doing or if you’re failing. You’ll know how you’re doing after one glance.

But if you get your paycheck and you don’t like the results and blame the economy, the leads, the weather, your cheap competitors, it’s a sign you’re not making the money you want. And if you truly believe those are the things actually holding you back, then you have a dependent mindset.

Why would you depend on somebody else to change? Like depending on the weather to change and sinking all your faith in that, why be dependent on cheap competitors raising their prices in order for you to succeed?

But if you embrace that we are exactly where we are because of the decisions and choices that we’ve made over our lifespan, then that’s the mindset that will get you anywhere you want to go. Why? Because there will be no one or thing to point fingers at, our success will be ours if we possess the ability and motivation to overcome obstacles we can’t control.

Neuroscientists estimate you make 30,000 independent choices every single day. Most of them are subconscious, and you never think about them. The compound effect of all those 30,000 daily choices has put you exactly where you are.