Tag Archives: accountability

An Important Skill for Parenting and Leadership

Last month I attended an event for professional speakers where a well-known keynote speaker shared ways to create connection with your audience. During his speech, he mentioned the town in upstate New York where he grew up. He grew up only 15 minutes from my hometown, so I was excited to talk with him afterwards. He certainly created a connection with me in that moment. We had something in common.

His speech was excellent, and after he walked off stage and the meeting organizer concluded the meeting, I walked up to him and told him how great his speech was and started to tell him where I was from in New York, when…he totally blew me off. He was so busy getting his marketing materials together to put at the back of the room, that he didn’t even make eye contact with me and barely listened to what I had to say as he rushed off. I was disappointed. Not because I had this need to connect with him on a personal level, but because many of the things he had just taught in his speech he was not practicing. I thought the content of his speech was excellent, but the feeling I got from him afterward totally turned me off.

In the speaking industry, there’s an unwritten rule that your speech is not really over when you leave the stage. You may have finished the content of your speech, but it’s important to stay connected to your audience until you leave the building. Even when you are not on stage, you are still “on” and your audience is still judging you (for better or worse) based on your interactions.

The same is true for leadership. As a leader, people observe your actions, even in the small moments that may not seem to matter. Leadership is a behavior, not a role. Everything you do has impact. Even when you are working late and only one person is in the office with you, or when you are at the company barbecue, or when you are at a conference out of town, you are having an impact. Just like a speaker isn’t finished when he walks off the stage, you don’t leave your leadership role at the office when you go home at night.

Leadership is a practice. We must be mindful that we have an impact on people at all times. Now, I am not saying you need to be perfect. In fact, showing your imperfections allows people to see you for who you are–a human being. People don’t want their leaders to be perfect, they want them to be authentic. You model great leadership by having high standards for yourself, and persevering through your challenges and struggles.

Employees follow more of what you do than what you say. That’s why leading yourself is the first step in leading others. If you want your managers to coach their employees, make sure you are coaching your managers. If you want people to show up on time to meetings, make sure you are showing up on time.

My husband, Rino, and I were talking several months ago about the characteristics and disciplines we want to cultivate in our three young children. The usual qualities like compassion, generosity, kindness, and confidence made the list. When discussing what habits to instill, Rino said he would like to teach our six year old daughter, Olivia, to make her bed every morning. He feels that making your bed is a small accomplishment each morning that sets the day up for success. Making the bed is taking pride in your environment.

“I agree,” I said, “but shouldn’t we start making our bed every morning first?”

People don’t model what you say, they model what you do. It’s not enough to talk about what you want, you must exhibit what you want. Mastering integrity (doing what you say you will do) and authenticity (consistently showing up as yourself) are essential for effective leadership.

The small things we do every day can either create trust and strengthen relationships, or chip away at trust and damage relationships. The trust you build can strengthen your integrity and credibility, or damage your integrity and credibility.

If you want to change your corporate culture, start by changing yourself. Cultures don’t change, people do. Cultures don’t transform, people transform.

You go first.

When you model accountability, others will follow. You will create the momentum to get extraordinary results.

As for me, I’ve started making my bed every morning. Parenting has been my most challenging job to date. It’s not a role I play where I can pick and choose what actions my children should model. They see all of me, the good moments and the bad moments, the good traits and the bad traits. Parenting has forced me to look in the mirror and be more deliberate about my actions.

In parenting and in leadership, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being deliberate. Reflecting on your behaviors, both good and bad, and choosing to be better, one moment at a time.

How to Get More of What You Want in Life

I recently had the opportunity to attend a week-long conference with Jack Canfield, the co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. The event was focused on helping people break through to higher levels of success.

The first principle of success Jack introduced was “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life.” Most of us have been conditioned to blame something or someone outside of ourselves for the parts of our life we don’t like. But the truth is, there is only one person who is responsible for the quality of life you live: you.

When Jack first introduced this success principle, my immediate thought was that I didn’t have room for improvement. I take responsibility for my life. I don’t blame others for my outcomes. But as we got deeper into the topic, I realized there are places where excuses linger and I don’t take full responsibility.

Most of us have people or institutions that we blame for negative circumstances in our life.

Below are some common examples.

We Blame:

Example:

Government

I can’t save more money because I pay so much in taxes

Parents

 

I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, so I didn’t have the opportunities other people had
Boss My boss doesn’t coach or develop me, so I’m stuck in my job
Husband/Wife/Partner My husband doesn’t like healthy food, so I can’t eat healthier
Kids My kids take up so much of my energy, that I don’t have time to see my friends
Weather I couldn’t work out this morning, it was too cold outside
Employees I can’t delegate because my employees can’t handle more work
Lack of time I don’t have time to take a class/travel/call my mother
Lack of money I don’t have enough money to go back to school

 

The problem with blaming is that we give up our power to change our outcomes. We give up our choice. But it’s not the external circumstances that hold us back–it’s our own limited thinking.

Ultimately, the only thing we can control is our response to events. We can’t change the event itself. Psychotherapist Dr. Robert Resnick created a formula to illustrate this:

E +R = O
(Event + Response = Outcome)

Every outcome in life is a result of how you responded to an event. You can’t change the family you grew up in, but you can change your response to the situation and ultimately change your outcome. A past event is in the past–it’s not changeable. We can only impact future outcomes by changing our response to events that show up in our life.

After Jack introduced the typical excuses people make in their lives, I realized that I haven’t always taken 100% responsibility for my life. For example, I was recently complaining to a colleague that as my business grows, there isn’t enough time to focus on marketing my business online and also work with my current clients. I went on to complain that I also don’t love the marketing side of business, but I’m too busy to search for someone who could help me with it. Subconsciously I was making excuses (lack of time to learn how to market online) for not taking charge of the outcome (gaining more visibility online).

Since returning from the workshop, I have decided to take 100% responsibility for this aspect of my business. I am reading a book on effective marketing and watching videos to learn how to implement some strategies. Even though it’s uncomfortable to be stretching myself to learn this aspect of business, I feel empowered that I am taking charge of my results. I’ve decided if it’s really important, I will find the time to do it, and not complain.

How about you: Is there an aspect of your life that you need to take more responsibility for?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.