By Michael Aun
Ours was a blue-collar family which did not engage in such nonsense as “allowances.” In fact, I charged my children to live in our home. In last week’s column we outlined three of the six steps of accountability.
Let’s go deeper… step one is self-honesty. Step two is to value others. Step three is to keep good records. Afterall, accountability is really about scorekeeping. Measuring is what makes it important.
The fourth step of our process is to “take responsibility.” We charged our children $228.00 per month to live in our home and they could easily double that by simply doing their chores, homework and other tasks deemed “theirs” around the house, like putting their junk away when they were done playing with it.
Taking responsibility is as much or more about the losses as it is the wins. My twin sons came to me one month and, in a vulnerable way, confessed that they did not have enough money to pay the monthly premium on their Knights of Columbus life insurance policies (which I had sold them).
Wanting to replicate real world as best as possible, I introduced the concept of a loan. “Dad, what’s a loan?” I explained “For every dollar you are short this month, I’ll make it up. That is a loan. But you have to pay me back with interest.”
“Dad, what’s interest?” I responded “Simple… dear sons of mine. For every dollar I loan you, you are going to pay me $2 back.” One percent. (Okay…Redneck math).
“Dad you can’t charge rates like that! The Mafia doesn’t charge that much.” (Now they are experts on South Carolina’s usury law.)
“In addition, I require collateral.” They looked at me quizzically and asked, “What’s collateral?” Collateral is your bicycle. Well… sadly, now they know about repossessions.
I put their bike on the front porch with a big sign in front “FOR SALE- CHEAP!” All I was asking was the $25.00 I had loaned them. Interestingly, all the kids in the neighborhood got together and bought the bike our of hock so that Cory could get it back. I found out later, they sold my son his own bike back for $100.00! (And you think I charge Mafia rates!)
Taking responsibility is one of the more important steps… but no less important. There must be consequences to every action we take in life.
Step five is doing the right thing. Just because something sounds right doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Relationships with others are all about give-and-take and making sure the punishment suits the crime.
Step six is critical! Act promptly with care. There is a right way to say the right thing and just because there are penalties associated with decisions we face, it doesn’t permit you to be vicious in the process.
Accountability invites collaboration, teamwork, courage, coachability and commitment to the bottom line- results.
We have a whole new generation of Gen Z’s that will have some trouble wrestling with accountability issues. Clearly, the most important attribute one should possess is humility and honor. Without those, it is impossible to do any of the other things required.
For instance, you cannot review and improve if you do not have a solid baseline. You cannot project desired outcomes if you do not know what current behavior looks like.
That starts with being honest and transparent and demonstrating what good outcomes look like but why you desire them. That is where ethics come into the picture. “To thine own self be true…” so said Shakespeare.
The biggest problems with Gen Z’s are they refuse all accountability. They blame and make excuses for everything. In short, they are not coachable and don’t deserve a vote.
When you are proactively seeking solutions, it is fair to assume you will fail repeatedly to get the best outcome. Failing is not only acceptable, it is necessary to eliminate bad choices.
That is what accountability boils down to. Make good choices, do what you say you are going to do, take responsibility for your actions and respond within 24 hours. No one is too busy to show common courtesy.
Michael Aun Hall of Fame Speaker CSP®, CPAE ® is the co-author of “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies for Business and Professional Practice Owners” Riverbanks Press (803)-331-6695