By Michael Aun
Accountability is about character. One must have character because it is the glue that ties commitment to results. Otherwise, why bother with accountability?
How do you hold the people in your life accountable? I have always felt that you could literally put anyone and everyone who works with you on straight commission. Yes, even secretaries and receptionists and bookkeepers… you name it. Quantify the task and reward it accordingly.
Two of the most significant events in my life happened literally a week apart from one another. The first was July 31, 1978, the day my twin sons Cory Michael and Jason Paul were born.
The second occurred a week later when I won the World Championship of Public Speaking for Toastmasters. Let me be blatantly honest. I knew very little about fathering children or winning speech contests.
Accountability starts with basic honesty to one’s self. Fool yourself and it is probably the only person you will successfully fool.
Next, we must value others for who and what they are and the responsibilities we each should have toward our relationship with each other. Both sides must value the other. Parents call it love. Bosses call it respect. Spouses call it loyalty. Define your respective role.
Part of definition is keeping good records and knowing what good behavior looks like. We never believed in allowances in our house. The allowance system worked like this… “If there is enough food left over, you get to eat. If there is an empty bed, you get to sleep.” We were on the pay-as-you-go method.
We had our three son’s on commission. Everything was valued at $1. Make your bed, you get a $1. Clean up your room, you get a $1. On the other side of the record keeping ledger, each child was charged $228.00 per month to live in our home. Do 228 chores over 30 days and everything over and above that is clear profit to you.
You must keep good records and frankly this was my biggest headache. Every month I had to construct this elaborate chart with all their chores on it so they could check off the tasks. It was getting to be such a headache that I abandoned the process.
Instead I went down to Lexington State Bank and got my buddies Raymond Caughman and R.W. McCormick to round me up 1000 one-dollar bills. I took the bills down to Junior Taylor, my printer, and he painted glue on the edges and padded them up for me. Now when the boys completed a task, they could tear off a $1… we were always even.
The next step of the accountability process is to take responsibility. The boys came to me one month, “Dad, we don’t have enough money in Quicken to pay the bills this month. What are we going to do?”
I try to run my life as much like the real world as possible, so I introduced the concept of a loan. “What’s a loan?” they would ask. “Well, if you are short this month, I’ll loan you the money and you can pay me back later.” I could see them elbowing one another… “This loan thing is cool. We’ll hit this sucker again next month.”
But then I gave them the rest of the story. “I will be charging you interest.” They asked, “What’s interest?” In simple terms, for every dollar I loan, you will pay me $2 back. One percent! (Redneck math).
“Dad the mafia doesn’t charge rates like that. Here are my innocent little children… one moment they don’t know what a loan is and the next moment they are experts on South Carolina’s usury law.
In next week’s column, we’ll unveil the balance of the accountability process with three additional critical steps.
Michael Aun Hall of Fame Speaker CSP®, CPAE ® is the author of “Build a Better You, Starting Now- Volume 5- Accountability”