Let me take you back to eighth grade me, nicknamed “Big Mike.” You might be able to guess where that came from. I was a heavy kid, but I loved basketball. I had played rec basketball, and wanted to take it to the next level, but I didn’t think I could make it onto an organized team.

But I was a young man with a dream, so I decided to try out for the team anyways. Come tryouts, I found myself in last place during all the running drills. I can still remember, I was out of breath, had a big cramp in my side, was walking when I should have been running, I thought for sure I was going to get cut from tryouts. So I kept pushing myself. 

Despite all my hard work, I still convinced myself that I wouldn’t make it onto the team. But at the end of the first day of tryouts, Coach gave me a pat on the back and said “Good job, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

That little bit of encouragement was enough to push me to the next day. I was doing great with all the drills until the dreaded running drills. At the end of the second day I was in pain from cramps and feeling discouraged. On top of that, I again had a gut feeling that I was going to get cut from tryouts. 

Then something incredible happened. Coach sat me down and said “You’re doing good work. Heart and dedication are hard to find in a player. So keep up the good work.” Those few words really stuck with me. 

It’s not just what he said, but how he said it. Coach had this incredible ability to be gentle and encouraging, yet still holding me accountable. Those types of mentors set you up for success later in life. But it wasn’t just my coach that inspired me to do my best. It was the team I surrounded myself with. Together they created a sense of accountability that I needed to feel inspired to push myself. 

Deconstructing Accountability

What’s your first response when I say the word “accountability?”. Accountability often gets a bad rap. People hear the word and think it’s harsh and abrasive, or that it implies consequences if you don’t meet a certain standard. But that’s not the case.

My eighth grade basketball coach showed me that accountability can be soft and encouraging yet still push me to the next level. He encouraged me to push myself along with other people who were challenging themselves at a high level. This sort of accountability allowed me to embody even more self discipline, desire, and self-control.

Your success builds when you have a support system around you. People who work hard, chase after their goals, along with some level of mentorship above you. Mentors and peers who are gentle and approachable, yet give you just enough tough love when you need it. 

If You Want to Go Far, Go Together

It’s one thing to get your mind in a state of success, it’s another to create the environment for you to thrive in. That’s what accountability does. If you want to go far in life you need to surround yourself with people with the same dreams, or at least the same level of drive and ambition.

A quote that has really stuck with me is “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Sure we can make a lot happen really fast if he hustle and grind. But is that sustainable or even enjoyable? Probably not. True success is creating a life that you want to live. Creating a community that keeps you accountable makes your success that much more rewarding. 

Creating a Container of Accountability

Has this given you some food for thought? Are you starting to see the importance of creating a network of accountability for yourself, but aren’t sure where to start?

My first piece of advice is to get clear on what sort of community you want around you. Start by making a list of traits you want in the people on your team. Brainstorm what principles values you want them to have, that match your own. Be intentional about surrounding yourself with these people. When you hold yourself and each other to a certain standard, everyone on your team becomes elevated.

The best kind of accountability you can give yourself is gentle, yet tough. Challenging, but forgiving. And most of all – allows you to enjoy the journey along the way. If you’re looking for a mentor to add another level of accountability to your life, I’d love to invite you to set up a free discovery call with me to see if one-on -one coaching is your next step.