April 21, 2017

Teachable People Invite Accountability

Every time I ask the question the response is usually the same. If I ask a group there may be a few outliers but for the most part they chime out the same response in harmonic unison.

Would you prefer more independence or more accountability?

Who hasn’t said more than once whether young or old, “If I were calling the shots things would be so much better.”

Our craving for independence seemingly rises up out of nowhere. By the time we reach high school most of us begin clamoring for greater independence.

We go to work and in a matter of weeks or months clamor for more freedom and independence. It doesn’t take us long to have our job and our bosses job figured out. We openly wonder why they haven’t put us in charge. “We,” by the way, is multi-generational. The millennial’s are simply getting a “bad rap” because they saying out loud what previous generations thought.

Ask people to list out what they most want in a job or career and you will rarely, if ever, see accountability on the list. High-achievers certainly value independence but not at the expense of accountability.

B.C. Forbes frames it up well saying, “How you start is important, very important, but in the end it is how you finish that counts. It is easier to be a self-starter than a self-finisher. The victor in the race is not the one who dashes off swiftest but the one who leads at the finish.”

Valuing independence over accountability gives rise to the belief we can finish well on our own. Self-finishers pride themselves on self-reliance and independence that naturally conflicts with the embracing accountability.

Mindset of Accountability

The primary conflict is grounded in the belief that accountability is going to slow them down and reign in their freedom. What they don’t understand is that accountability is not an open invitation for feedback from anyone with an opinion.

It may not always (maybe rarely) what you want t hear. But it will certainly be what you need to hear if you are serious about raising your performance and achieving your goals.

Accountability Requires Willingness

One of the four principle qualities of accountability is “Willingness”—the presence of and open and teachable spirit.

Embracing and developing a teachable spirit is not easy. Age and experience work against it. Researchers have concluded that as we age and gain experience we in fact become less teachable. Some may call it learned which is polite. The unfettered definition would be stubborn.

Stick to What You Know

Aging and experience create memories that become an impediment to teachability according to a Harvard Medical School Study and lead to two learning obstacles.

  1. We tend to rely too much on our past knowledge.
  2. We may miss or even reject novel information that does not agree with previous memories.

Ultimately, we stick to what we know! And unfortunately sticking to what we know will limit our ability to reach new goals, improve our performance and expand our impact.

Embolden Teachability

Celebrated social scientist and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Eric Hoffer said, “In times of change, learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”

Teachable people will grow in impact, influence and contribution. You’ll embolden teachability by inviting someone to come along side of them to:

  • ask tough questions that need to be asked.
  • help you identify the gaps between here you are and your desired finish line.
  • help you push through the resistance of what you know.
  • open your eyes to the value of curiosity.
  • help you ask questions like a beginner.

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