The Accountability Formula - Wins, Challenges, and Commitments

Hello Reader,

90% of the world’s drops are done by jugglers.

Whatever you juggle - balls, fruit, chainsaws, or family schedules - you are statistically more likely to drop what you juggle than the people who never throw anything.

Dropping the ball is part of how we learn. The placement of the drop - way off to the side, or too far forward to reach - is the very thing that gives you a clue about how you can throw better.

This is the secret of juggling: juggling is not about great catches. Juggling is about great throws.

The way that I teach juggling to young clowns is the same way that I lead my mastermind groups for busy professionals, and teach goal setting workshops for high achievers.

I know this seems counterintuitive, but the principles of the Accountability Formula work for all three.

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The Accountability Formula has 3 steps:

  1. Wins
  2. Challenges
  3. Commitments

Starting with victories puts your future goals in the context of your success. Your challenges help you calibrate the way forward. Declaring your commitments to others gives you external accountability.

WINS: Your goals are built on previous levels of mastery.

The Accountability Formula starts with sharing your victories, to put your goals in the context of success. Nobody is going to be able to juggle three balls unless they feel very confident in throwing one ball from hand to hand. Professionally, nobody sets a realistic goal to make six figures this year if they have never made a dollar.

To learn to juggle, you practice throwing one ball very well. Side to side, hand to hand, smooth and steady, until you are so certain you don’t need to look. To grow a business, you earn your first dollar, and then a few more, before you can make a realistic plan to earn millions.

Good goals are set in an area where you have both competency and confidence. My mastermind meetings begin with everyone sharing what went right recently. Sharing wins will elevate everyone into a positive frame of mind, and sets our sights on achievement.

Fun fact: serotonin production is triggered by remembering past success. You can prime your mind to handle challenges when you flood your brain with the hormone that helps you handle depression and anxiety.

CHALLENGES: Isolate and fix what’s not working.

Setting goals does not achieve them. Your challenges will help you calibrate the way forward, because you cannot make meaningful progress until you understand what’s in the way.

When learning how to juggle, you don’t start with 3 balls. Throwing 2 balls in a 3 ball cascade (side to side, hand to hand) helps you precisely isolate your mistakes, without getting distracted by the next ball. Throw, throw, stop. Throwing one ball, and then throwing with the other hand before you catch, creates a new condition. It’s tricky to get this right. The same hand throws and then catches. You have to get that transfer correct before you try three balls, or everything falls everywhere.

That second ball often flies in an unexpected direction. Seeing where it goes helps you modify your throw, without getting confused by the next incoming ball. Your challenges give you clues, if you pay enough attention.

COMMITMENTS: Declare your future successes.

Making a commitment is the final step of the Accountability Formula. If you skip the first two steps, you may not make it to the end.

Declaring your commitments keeps a regular pace of accountability. In juggling, you state that you will throw 3 balls in a cascade for a specific number of throws. 1-2-3-4 and stop. Think about how you did. 1-2-3-4-5 and stop. Anything need to be modified or adjusted? Try for 6. And then try for 7. Having a specific commitment in mind is much easier to attain than open-ended infinity.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a goal setting study with 267 participants. She found that by writing goals down, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. According to a study by the American Society of Training and Development, you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone.

So writing down your goals, and telling people about it, is enough to achieve them, right? Well, it’s important, but it’s not enough.

What if you set a goal that takes you where you don’t want to go? What if a new goal interferes with an older, more important goal? What if you face unexpected setbacks? What if plans change?

You don’t uncover these issues without making a commitment in the first place. The point of making commitments is not to achieve every goal you set. It is to discover if the goal is worthwhile.

Don’t feel bad about failing to keep a commitment. Breaking New Year’s Resolutions is good for you. 90% of the world’s drops are accomplished by the jugglers who fail. Your broken commitments create the conditions for achievement.

What does your own accountability teach you about yourself?

One of my favorite weekly habits is to use the Accountability Formula to write down a list of my wins and challenges from the past week, and list my commitments for the next week. This gives me a practical method to understand my own goals and progress, in the context of what’s happening in my life right now.

“At its core, accountability is a process that shows us exactly who we are, rather than what we imagine ourselves to be.” - Col Fink

Combining positive reinforcement with critical introspection and community encouragement will create an atmosphere for achievement.

Use the Accountability Formula:

  1. Wins
  2. Challenges
  3. Commitments

Start with what you know. Figure out what what you don’t know, yet. And publicly share who you’re going to be, later.

Achievement is a progression of smaller successes that lead to a bigger success. So work hard on what works, first. Then work on harder things, after you know the basics so well, you don’t have to think about it. To juggle three chainsaws, you start by juggling one ball, side to side, hand to hand.

Weekly Mastermind Groups

Sharing your goals with others helps you articulate an aspirational version of yourself. Sharing these goals regularly, with a small group of confidantes, will create a community that will support you in growing into that better version of you.

In Napoleon Hill’s book Think And Grow Rich, he distilled the knowledge and wisdom he had learned from interviewing dozens of rich and successful people. A common factor in the stories of everyone he interviewed was the Mastermind Principle, which he defined as: “The coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people who work towards a definite purpose in a spirit of harmony.”

One of the people he profiled was Andrew Carnegie, who held a weekly mastermind meeting for decades. This is the passage he used to read at the beginning of his meetings:

I RELEASE… I release myself to the mastermind because I am strong when I have others to help me.

I BELIEVE… I believe the combined intelligence of the mastermind creates a wisdom far beyond my own.

I UNDERSTAND… I understand that I will more easily create positive results in my life when I am open to looking at my self, my problems and opportunities from another’s point of view.

I DECIDE… I decide to release my desire totally in trust to the mastermind and I am open to accepting new possibilities.

I FORGIVE… I forgive my self for mistakes I have made. I also forgive others who have hurt me in the past so I can move into the future with a clean slate.

I ASK… I ask the mastermind to hear what I really want; my goals, my dreams and my desires, and I hear my mastermind partners supporting me in MY fulfillment.

I ACCEPT… I know, relax, and accept, believing that the working power of the mastermind will respond to my every need. I am grateful knowing this is so.

Feel free to play this video at the start of your own Mastermind Meetings:

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If you are interested in joining the next cohort of my mastermind group, apply to join here.

Accountability to yourself

Does you find it difficult to hold yourself accountable, and take responsibility for your own mistakes? Whose fault is that? Whose fault could it be?

“The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.” - William Shakespeare

The real purpose of the Accountability Formula is honesty.

Having an honest examination of your wins, challenges, and commitments will keep you from tricking yourself into staying small. If you want to become a better version of yourself, there is no one who is responsible for your own progress except for you.

This article is an excerpt from my next book, Playful Productivity. To get notified when it's ready, sign up for the wait list here.

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For experts and entrepreneurs who want smart marketing systems that increase their influence, income, and impact. Written by an 🇺🇸 American digital nomad living in 🇳🇿 New Zealand, Caelan started his career as an acrobat in the circus. 🎪 He wrote the book on Marketing Yourself 📙 and is on a mission to help one million people develop a playful attitude about life. ✨

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