A few months back, I was bemoaning my lengthy to-do list. I know. What else is new? Ann Sachs tweeted me about my NOT To-Do list, and I was intrigued, and asked her if she’d write a blog post about that, because it sounded like something I needed. What follows are two guest posts: one from Ann and one from her Accountability Partner, Carey Earle. First up: Ann!
A $50,000 Value for $00
Carey is my Accountability Partner. Never mind that her office is a log cabin in Vermont and that she is the same age as my god-daughter. We’ve called each other almost every week for the past six years to keep each other on track with business issues. We did take a two-month break, before and after Carey’s marriage, which came a week after my daughter’s wedding. As we say in the theatre “It’s all in the timing.”
Our APC tally (that would be “Accountability Partner Call”) is 79 months, with occasional weeks missed due to business travel or vacations. The way it works for me is that it’s easier to fudge a self-imposed deadline than it is to embarrass myself in front of Carey. She says it works the same way with her.
Why I Need It
My daily business challenge is balancing strategic issues with tactical ones. It is difficult for me to devote sufficient time to working on my business instead of in it, and I implement some techniques that help this ongoing quest:
- Make a NOT To Do List
- Implement Five-Level Delegation
- Say NO to some clients and some ideas
In my world, strategic plans have a way of taking a back seat to more “urgent” matters. This is common in a small company, and one way of coping is to hire an executive coach or management consultant to produce results. I’ve done this, and it is effective but expensive. So I decided to experiment with the simple idea of holding myself accountable to my goals, with the help of a partner.
Here’s the system:
1. Identify a business colleague you respect, with whom you have rapport.
2. Ask h/her to be your “Accountability Partner”
3. Make a commitment to speak to each other by phone once a week.
4. Divide your phone time evenly (we use half an hour each) and present your most pressing issues while your partner listens and asks questions. Then switch.
5. Agree on a specific timeframe for goals to be accomplished: every milestone requires a date of completion. If for some reason goals are not completed, discuss why. Decide to re-define and/or re-commit to a new date.
Listen. Brainstorm. Act. Follow Up.
With full respect for Carey’s substantial business expertise and my 40 years of professional experience, I don’t think our APC’s work because we know the answers. The system works because we are committed to really listening to each other, and reflecting back questions based upon what we hear. We listen, brainstorm, take action and follow up.
When you consider the cost of working with a reputable coach, our accountability partnership provides BIG value for no cost.
I’ve learned from Carey to behave more like the turtle and less like the hare, as is my custom. And it is my plan to continue working with her as long as she’ll have me.
It works. Give it a try!
Email Ann at