Friday, June 25, 2010

Who is Holding You Accountable?

Sometimes I get frustrated with my friend Julie. She makes it look so easy to have so much stamina. She is always finding ways that we can work more efficiently, get our exercise in each day, and have cherished valuable time with our kids. She has backed off me a bit as I recover from gall bladder surgery last week. But I know just as soon as I am able she will show up on my door step for us to walk the dogs just like always.

We all need people to hold us accountable. Sales goals, budgets, contracts and deadlines are just like my friend Julie (and my gall bladder) - they hold us accountable for promises we've made. People in the Smart Zone create accountability by inspiring others to accept responsibility for their actions.

Accountability is really a call from your conscience. It's the voice that tells you to do the best you can and to hold others responsible for being their best selves. People lacking accountability are those who are "along for the ride" floating through life, blaming others for their failures and lacking integrity in relationships.

To stay in the Smart Zone remain accountable to yourself first and use the following Smart Moves to create accountability:


  • Don't confuse obedience with accountability. When people obey they are merely doing work to avoid getting punished - possibly at the expense of other people, morale or customer goodwill. Just doing what you are told is not accountability. You must take ownership of your successes and failures to be accountable.
  • Discomfort and remorse are important teachers. When someone fails to perform don't minimize the remorse they feel for messing up. Let them experience the emotions so you don't take away their learning. But remember that people don't learn when they feel threatened - so tread lightly.
  • Lead by example. I am guilty of telling my staff to keep our administrative area clutter free and then letting my desk pile up with stuff. If I want my staff to be more accountable, I must be more accountable.
  • "Deadlines make people do dumb things," says ├╝ber-blogger Seth Godin. Deadlines are made to hold people accountable but many people spend more time explaining why they missed a deadline. With 2 weeks to meet a deadline some people only care about the last 15 minutes.
  • Accountability and responsibility are first cousins. Make and keep your promises. If you find yourself getting off track stop and check yourself. Be honest with yourself and be honest enough to hold others on your team to their personal best.
  • Find an accountability partner. This must NOT be a person that you live with, sleep with or have given birth to. Use your own self awareness to admit weak areas in your life that an accountability partner can help with. Click here to watch my explanation of self awareness.

Accountability comes from within and helps you catch problems early on so that you can take ownership of responding to them. Stop yourself the next time you have the urge to say, "That's not MY job." Hold yourself and others accountable so that everyone will perform at their personal best and work in the Smart Zone.

By the way, click on this questionnaire to see if you have gall bladder symptoms. I certainly could have benefitted from this information before spending a night in the ER last week. I'm pretty tough and have been told I have a high tolerance for pain. Well, gall bladder pain is like no other. Talk about accountability!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Empty Your Bucket & Handle Stress

I actually felt sorry for the person in the waiting room with me at the Veterinarian's office last week. She was so impatient and I could tell her blood was boiling. The Vet was behind in his schedule and there were a lot of people and their pets piling up in the waiting room. She kept sighing loudly for all of us to hear, mumbling under her breath and getting impatient with her dog. She was causing a small spectacle and the psychologist in me wanted to talk her through it. I know even our Golden Retriever Sophie could feel that this lady was a bit uptight. She may have been having pre-summer burnout which I talked about in this FOX 4 TV segment last week. Click here to watch it.





We all have days when our tolerance level is lower and we feel stress sooner. For this woman, it wasn't about the Vet being slow or the waiting room being too full. It was about the other stressors in her life. She was having what I call an "exaggerated response" to waiting for her turn.

I believe everyone has a bucket inside of them. When something causes stress, frustrates you, makes you angry or requires a lot of attention and energy the bucket starts to fill. When your bucket fills completely you will have an exaggerated response causing you to overreact to the simplest of stressors. Some people call it "wigging out," "losing it," and "going postal." You may be getting a 10 minute oil change and it takes longer than 10 minutes and you "lose it" when normally this delay wouldn't be a big deal. Click here to watch my video explanation of your bucket.

A few things that tend to fill my bucket are: new technology in my business (I recently converted to a Mac), packing for a vacation with my 3 boys and folding laundry.

Things that can fill your bucket are:

Ways to empty your bucket are:
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Spending quality time with friends
  • Spending quality time with family
  • Church involvement
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Hobbies
  • Reading
  • Staying organized
  • Meditation
Be careful not to choose ways to empty your bucket with activities that cause it to fill back up and cause even more stress. Sarah Ferguson just attempted to empty her bucket in a way that caused it to refill. Some poor choices for emptying your bucket are:
  • Marital affair
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Substance abuse (illegal and prescription)
  • Smoking
  • Gambling
  • Gossip
  • Overeating
  • Antisocial activities like stealing, lying, behaving impulsively
  • Withdrawing from social activities and groups
  • Borrowing money and not repaying it

To stay in the Smart Zone, anticipate what will fill your bucket so you can get ahead of it. I build in training time when I add new technology to my business to help minimize my stress. When traveling I build in an extra day to pack to avoid being up until 2:00 a.m. the night before. And when you feel an exaggerated response coming on instead of saying, "I'm so stressed out. I can't handle this," say, "I need to find a way to empty my bucket." I know that everyone in your life, including your pets, will appreciate it.