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You know how you say you’re going to get up early, but you hit snooze the next morning anyway?

It’s because we’re not afraid to let ourselves down. If we break a commitment to ourselves, it doesn’t mean much because no one else knows.

But most of us care a lot about what other people think of us. We don’t want to let people down.

You can use this to your advantage by getting an accountability partner.

Accountability partners are there to help you stick to your commitments and get more done.

Today, we’ll be answering the following questions:

  • How do you find an accountability partner?
  • What qualities should you look for?
  • How often should you meet?
  • What should happen in the meetings?
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Accountability partners are there to help you stick to your commitments and get more things done.
  • Look for someone as an accountability partner who aligns with your values.
  • Find someone who is on a similar level to your own.
  • Meet with your accountability partner at least weekly.
  • Put yourself in the places where the people who could become your accountability partner hang out.
  • Be friendly, be human, but don’t waste time during your meetings.
  • Write down the commitments you both made at the end of each meeting.
  • The more real you can be with your accountability partner, the better results you’ll get.
  • When you make a commitment and follow through, you strengthen that muscle.
  • Make a public commitment to do something and then back it up with an accountability partner.
Show Notes
  • 05:38 Sean: We don’t want to let other people down, but we don’t mind letting ourselves down. Nobody sees, nobody knows.
  • 05:45 Ben: It’s really tough. I wish I could motivate myself without needing someone else, but I’ve found it useful, time after time, to have some outside motivation. There’s a part of me that fights that, because I want to be completely intrinsically motivated, but that’s just not how we’re wired. I think that’s by design. We’re purposefully meant to be supportive and encouraging, to be motivators for one another.
  • 06:21 Sean: Today, we’re going to be answering the following questions, as well as any that people in the chat submit live. What should happen in your accountability meetings? Today’s episode is about accountability partners.
  • Accountability partners are there to help you stick to your commitments and get more things done.

  • 06:42 How do you find those people? What should happen in the meetings? How often should you meet? When you’re looking for this person, what qualities should you look for? We’ll talk about how to find one. Several people in the Community have been saying that they have an accountability partner and it’s been a big help to them. Cory, you do, right?
  • 07:04 Cory: Yeah, I do. I have an accountability partner. We meet every week on a Thursday. I met him at the conference in person. He’s a member of the Community. We met in person, we connected, and we were like, “I really like the conversations we’re having. I feel like we’re on the same page with what we’re struggling with.” We’ve been meeting every week. It’s been great.
  • 07:26 Sean: Cory brought up something that I think a lot of people worry about. What if my accountability partner isn’t in the same location? Can I have an accountability partner that is remote, living somewhere else? I think you can. It’s great to meet with people in person, but you can use technology to meet with people. It helps when they’re in the same time zone, especially when your accountability stuff involves scheduling calls or waking up at the same time. What has your experience been, Ben?
  • 08:01 Ben: I did an accountability partnership with Aaron. He’s a really great accountability partner. This was last year. I was trying to get more consistent with my fitness goals, and he was on a similar journey. I want to say that this was the beginning of last year. For several weeks, we would get in touch once a week and follow up. We would text one another. Before that, Sean, me, Aaron, and someone else were in a text group for the #6amclub. We were trying to get ourselves out of bed early and get ourselves started with our day.
  • 08:53 Sean: One person would say, “Feet on the floor?” We would take turns.
  • 08:58 Ben: The rule was, “Feet on the floor?” The correct answer was, “Feet on the floor.” Aaron did not follow the rule to the letter.
  • 09:16 Sean: What would he do?
  • 09:17 Ben: He would say, “Yes. Fo Sho.”
  • 09:24 Sean: Or he would make up his own rhymes, words that rhymed with it and had nothing to do with it.

How Do You Find an Accountability Partner?

  • 10:00 Sean: There are three things you want to keep in mind:
    1. Values
    2. Levels
    3. Places
  • 10:22 How do you find an accountability partner? These are the three things you want to keep in mind. The first one is, what are your values? What are the things you care about, that are important to you?
  • Try to find someone as an accountability partner who aligns with your values, not a random person.

  • 10:41 If you don’t know what your values are, step zero is establishing your values. Why do I want an accountability partner? What is it that I want to accomplish? Why are these things important to me? Maybe someone else wants to accomplish something similar, but for different reasons. It’s a really good idea to find someone who’s doing this for similar reasons, who has similar values. It’s going to make it easier to relate and connect with people.
  • 11:11 Ben: That was kind of the experience I had with Aaron, looking at the fitness goals. When we first talked about becoming accountability partners, when people are trying to reach some sort of fitness goal, a lot of that has to do with being healthier, being stronger, and having more energy, but the commonality that Aaron and I found was that, by the time seanwes conference rolled around, we wanted to have a six pack. We wanted to have Thor abs.
  • 12:05 I didn’t quite make it, but it really was that we wanted to be healthier, stronger, and have more energy. Those were the common values. Those are goals, and I guess they could be values, too.
  • 12:23 Sean: I think that’s good. You want to align with people. Make sure it’s the right person. The levels part of it is that you want to find someone who is on a similar level to your own. Imagine if you want Thor abs, and you’re accountability partners with someone who already has Thor abs. That’s pretty intense. Neither of you is going to motivate the other in the right way. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have a personal trainer that helps you.
  • There’s a difference between an accountability partner and a coach/mentor.

    An accountability partner is on the same level as you, give or take a level.

  • 13:09 Depending on what this thing is, you want to assign yourself a level. Imagine a scale, 1 to 10, with this thing you want to do. Where are you on that scale? If you’re having a hard time giving yourself a level, something we’ve used as a way to gauge this in the past is, imagine level 10 as 10,000 hours in this thing. If you have 2,000 hours in this, then you’re a level 2. That’s a rough gauge. You want to find someone who is within one or two levels above or below you.
  • 13:48 That’s someone who’s pretty close to you, but they can kind of keep you going. A mentor or a coach would typically be more than two levels above you. That’s kind of the difference there.
  • 13:59 Ben: That’s a really good gauge, too. Most of the time, the number of hours a person has put toward something is going to equal a certain level of proficiency. Even if it doesn’t exactly equal, it’s close enough. Do you want to talk about that scale a little bit? In your mind, does 10,000 hours equal 10 years of doing the same thing?
  • 14:30 Sean: The levels thing is whatever you want to call it. If it’s hours, that’s fine. If it’s years, that’s fine. If it’s arbitrary, that’s fine, as long as you apply the same measuring rules toward the people you’re trying to connect with.
  • 14:47 Ben: You don’t have to get super specific, but you want to generally be close.
  • 14:52 Sean: That’s just the idea. You can probably guess, too. “We’re about on the same level.” That’s the main thing. You want to be pretty comparable.
  • Accountability partnership is a mutual thing—there are benefits you get from someone else keeping you on track, but you’re doing the same for them.

  • 15:12 A little bit later, we’re going to look at what goes on in that meeting. It’s a mutual thing. You’re helping them. They’re helping you. It’s easier when you’re helping someone who’s in a similar place.
  • 15:27 Ben: Say you’re at the same level, but you’re at very different circumstances, to where one person has more time and availability, fewer responsibilities. Therefore, maybe they can grow at a faster rate than the other person. In some ways, that feels like an uneven match, even though we may be at the same level now. The person who has more responsibilities isn’t going to have as much availability and time to put toward whatever it is they’re wanting to be accountability partners for. Do you want to find somebody who’s also in similar circumstances?
  • 16:08 Sean: Ideally. That’s not to say that you couldn’t make it work with the other person and treat it like a seasonal thing. Right now, we’re in a close enough place that this can work, but we’ll probably need new accountability partners in a couple of years. That’s fine if they change. You’re just helping each other grow. The third piece is places.
  • Put yourself in the places where the people are who could become your accountability partner.

  • 16:36 You’ve defined the values you have. You’ve established your own values. You know what you want in an accountability partner. You know the level you’re at. You have a pretty good idea of who this person it. The next thing you need to figure out is, where do they hang out? Where do they go, besides sitting in their home? Maybe that’s online, but it’s not always going to be online.
  • 17:00 You need to put yourself out there. That doesn’t necessarily mean outside of your house. It could be on the internet, but you need to go where those people are if you want to meet them. If you’re not putting yourself out there, you won’t meet those people. I’m talking about things like conferences, meetups, local events, groups, speaking opportunities, and online communities like the seanwes Community.
  • 17:28 Once you know who the people are, figure out where they hang out and go there. You’re not going to find an accountability partner sitting around.

Personality & Accountability

  • 17:39 Ben: Depending on your personality, that sounds really fun and interesting to me. I love going out and meeting new people. It’s fun. At the same time, there is some hesitancy. No matter what your personality is, it’s a little bit uncomfortable talking to somebody you’ve never met for the first time.
  • 18:03 Sean: I was talking to Laci about it, and she said that she’s a shy extrovert. She likes being around people. She likes entertaining. We’ll have a dinner tomorrow with some friends. People will come to our house. She’s going to make food, and she really enjoys that, but it’s a group of friends and people we know that we’re comfortable with. That’s different than going to a completely new place, where you don’t know anyone.
  • 18:30 Laci’s not going around meeting every single person. It’s not a natural thing for a lot of people. It’s the same for me, but I’ve practiced to the point where I can do that. In that kind of environment, I’m more extroverted, from what it looks like on the outside, than a lot of the people there. It’s not a natural thing for me, but I’m more comfortable with it because I’ve done it a lot. I’ve practiced.
  • 19:02 Ben: That’s not necessarily an introverted/extroverted thing. That’s more about how the energy flows. I’ll go into that situation, and I’ll come out feeling very energized. The shyness, that only goes away and gets more comfortable with repetition. That’s true with anything that’s uncomfortable in your business or your social encounters.
  • The more you repeat the same thing, the more you get rid of your preconceived fears.

  • 19:50 Sean: Jesus just asked in the chat, “What about finding an accountability partner who nurtures your weaknesses, and you do the same for them?” I like this. I’ve had people who are more reserved, introverted, similar to me, and people who are more extroverted. I enjoy talking with the more extroverted people because I feel like it’s a nice balance for me. It’s a good offset. It’s complimentary. It’s like marriage.
  • 20:24 It’s like a color wheel. If you’ve ever studied color theory, you’ve got complimentary colors, colors that are on the opposite sides of the wheel—yellow and purple, blue and orange. Very rarely are you picking colors that are adjacent to each other. It’s either opposite or several steps down, complimentary. With marriage, you either want to be the same or complimentary.
  • 21:22 Ben: I find that there are a lot of places that are the same, and there are other places that are complimentary. It’s this complex thing. In accountability relationships, when their weaknesses align with your strengths and visa versa, that’s really helpful—not only are you benefitting from them keeping you on track, but you’re also benefitting from someone applying their strengths and insights in an area where you’re weak. That gives you an advantage over other people who have that same weakness.
  • 22:04 Sean: That’s a better way of putting it. I was trying to say You want someone who shares a likeness with you, but also compliments you.
  • 22:15 I don’t know what that perfect balance is in any relationship. You probably don’t want someone who’s the complete opposite in every way. That would be a little abrasive, I think.
  • 22:28 Ben: Definitely.

Put Yourself Out There

  • 22:32 Sean: Let’s say you’re in the Community. I get a lot of people asking, both people who are considering joining and people who already are in the Community, “How do I find an accountability partner?” Or they’ll say, “Do you match up people? Do you have a matchmaking service?” That’s a very interesting idea, but it’s not something that we do. We encourage people to find accountability partners. Here’s the thing.

If you’re not actively participating in a place where the people you want to connect with hang out, you won’t find an accountability partner.

  • 23:11 You can’t just log into the Community and sit on the right side panel and watch what everyone else says and say, “Where’s my accountability partner?” Nobody knows you. You’re not putting yourself out there. Nobody’s sure.
  • 23:28 If the first thing you say is, “Anyone want to be accountability partners?” They’ll think, “I don’t know who you are.” You have to put yourself out there. Share some of that personality. Share your struggles. Share your challenges. What are you working on right now? Ben, we were talking about this yesterday.
  • 23:46 If you’re not ready to talk about it yet, that’s fine, but you’re working on a Kickstarter thing. You were like, “Can I share the process of this, share the story, share what I’m doing?” You’re not waiting until you have this super successful Kickstarter and story. You’re sharing the process of doing it, however it goes and what you’re learning as you go. That’s something people can relate to and connect to. You’re putting yourself out there.
  • 24:19 Ben: It’s kind of a scary thing at first. When you have the idea to share something like that, the way it plays out in your mind is, “I share this publicly, I go through all this stuff, and then I fail, and everybody gets to see my failure.” We tend to go to worst case scenarios, especially when we don’t have experience or belief to tell us otherwise.
  • In the absence of the experience of success, it is very scary to put yourself out there.

  • 25:00 This is true even with smaller things. You share something about yourself? What if there is somebody who doesn’t like that? What if there’s somebody who disagrees with that personality trait, that belief, or that approach? I’m a little bit weird. I’m a ready, fire, aim kind of a person. I didn’t give a whole lot of forethought to sharing this, but I knew that whether I succeeded or failed, there would at least be a lot of value for me to get out of it by documenting the steps that I took.
  • 25:38 I’m going to have something I can look back on. I can see where I may have made mistakes and that kind of thing. I can invite other voices into the conversation, people who may have already had some experience or some insights they can offer to the process. Either way, this is a guide, good or bad, that people can look at to help them if they do something similar, if they want to do a big project that they’re going to crowdsource.
  • 26:08 I saw all of those positives, and all of those positive things were so much more important to me than the potential negative outcome that I said, “No, I have to do this.”
  • 26:24 Sean: Any more thoughts, Cory, on putting yourself out there? For the person who wants to find an accountability partner?
  • 26:31 Cory: It’s the only way anyone is going to relate to you and be interested in being associated with you, your friend, let alone your accountability partner. They don’t know you. They don’t know if you’re a good fit if you’re not putting yourself out there. You have to. You have to say, “I’m struggling with this,” or, “I’ve really found success in this. I finally have gotten good at this.” You’re like, “That’s so great. I’m lacking there.” You have to talk.
  • 27:01 Ben: One of the things you need, as a person in an accountability relationship, is that affinity with another person—that feeling of, “I understand this person. I get them. I can relate to them.” Maybe you can identify a strength you have in an area of their weakness.
  • The more you can share with other people about who you are, the more context you’re filling in for them to decide whether they want to partner with you.

  • 27:34 That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to write an entire book and share everything about yourself, but as you get involved in a community, over time, people get to fill in that context. Maybe Scott, in the chat, shared something here and something there, but every time he shares something, I’m able to make a more complete picture of who he is.
  • 28:00 Sean: It’s like a mosaic. Did you ever make a mosaic?
  • 28:04 Ben: Yes. It was that clear paper stuff, not for real.
  • 28:16 Sean: You have six boys. Do you get a lot of those arts and crafts type of things, macaroni glued to the paper type of stuff?
  • 28:23 Ben: Let me tell you. We go to church twice a week, and then there’s school. Between church and school, our house is flooded with paper. It’s terrible, because anything your child creates, you’re like, “I can’t throw this away.” That’s a big problem. If I could solve that problem, I could make a lot of money. A lot of parents have that struggle. They’re like, “We can’t keep all these papers.”

How Often Should You Meet?

  • 29:52 Sean: There are a couple of things here. How often do you talk with them? If you’re not talking in person, how often should you meet in person? Sometimes, it’s just not possible to meet in person, and that makes sense. I would say, do your best. It’s really great when you can. It’s just so good. I would say, at most, a week in between your accountability meetings. If you can do even more frequent, I think it’s very helpful. It’s mutually beneficial, so it makes sense for both parties. No more than a week. Don’t do like once a month or every other week.
  • Meet with your accountability partner at least weekly.

  • 30:34 Ben: It’s similar to the thing we talked about with content. The reason you do something weekly, at least, is because you want to get into that weekly cycle. People don’t have as much of a context for something that happens less frequently.
  • 30:47 Sean: I bet, if you ever stopped doing accountability meetings, you probably weren’t doing them on a consistent, weekly schedule. In most cases.
  • 30:59 Ben: It’s the top of mind thing. One of the major things you focus on is reminding one another of your goal, keeping your eyes there. There are tasks and things that lead to that goal, but the thing you want to keep your eyes and your mind on is the goal itself. The accountability meeting is an opportunity to put that back in the forefront of your mind. The more often you meet, the more often you think about your goal and the more you’ll wire your brain to act upon trying to reach that goal.
  • 31:45 That’s why it’s so important to meet frequently, even more than once a week if you can, for the very same reasons. It keeps that goal top of mind for you.

What Should Happen in the Meetings?

  • 32:06 Sean: During your accountability meetings, it has to be regular.It has to be scheduled. You have to know by the end of the meeting when the next one is happening.The meeting needs to be structured.You absolutely need to TAKE NOTES. You can’t remember all of this stuff. Get it out of your head. Don’t use your brain as storage. Be friendly, be human, but don’t waste time.
  • 32:37 You have a purpose here. This is a valuable meeting in its own right. Don’t try and make it do double duty as the hang out time you want with your buddy. Schedule that time and go bowling, but don’t use the accountability meeting for that hang out time. Recap last week: how did it go with the thing you said you’d have completed by this meeting? Check in. Are we doing well or not so well? That can determine the direction of the meeting.
  • 33:28 If it’s not going well, how do we fix things? If it’s going great, how do we keep it up? How do we do better? How do we set the next milestone? What are you struggling with right now? Maybe everything went well with the commitment, but still ask the question. Maybe there’s something else. Those little things in the back of your mind, they eat away like a termite.What are you working on? What will you have done by the next time we talk? Take turns. Write down the commitments you both made.
  • 33:42 You swap all of this. This is one-sided and then you do the other direction. The unspoken stuff eats away, and that can cause problems later on. I was talking with a person, and we had an agenda. There was a thing we were supposed to do, and rather than do this thing, I said, “Let’s just talk.” It came out that there was a lot more beneath the surface. We can pretend like all of that’s not there and stay surface level under the guise that we’re saving time or being efficient, but we’re all dealing with stuff.
  • We’re all struggling with things, so the more real you can be with your accountability partner, the better it’s going to be.

  • 35:07 Ben: If it’s enough to make you think twice about sharing it because you think it’s going to derail your conversation, it’s derailing you in other ways between meetings. It needs to be taken care of.
  • 35:27 Sean: “What will you have done by the next time we talk?” This is the important part. That’s where you’re making a commitment and you’re saying what you’re going to have done. The other person knows. It’s a milestone. It’s a check point. Cory, say you and I were doing an accountability meeting. You know what I’m expecting you to have done by the next time we talk. You’re going to make sure to get it done, because unlike hitting snooze on a commitment to yourself to wake up early, it’s not that nobody knows.
  • 35:58 Someone actually does know, and you are going to let them down. Taking turns is the part where you flip it all around. If you were asking the questions, now they’re asking the questions. It goes two ways. You’re supporting them. They’re supporting you. If you let them down and you don’t fulfill your commitment, how are they going to feel? They’re going to be working on their commitments, trying not to let you down. It makes a strong bond that way.
  • 36:26 Finally, write down the commitments you both made, so you have a record of them. Every time I get on a call with someone, I have a little macro. I use TextExpander, and I type the word “calll.” It gives me a dropdown of the people I normally have calls with, and there’s also a blank in there. I could choose the blank if I want, but I could also type the first letter of any person’s name, hit Enter, and it automatically makes a header in Markdown with the person’s name, a dash, call with them, and it inserts today’s date.
  • 37:11 It gives me a couple of return carriages. As soon as I’m about to get on a call with someone, whether it’s scheduled or it’s one I wasn’t expecting, I open up a new text document, type “calll,” select the person’s name and type it in, and boom, there’s the date and I’m taking notes. I’m writing down everything they’re saying. It’s searchable. Imagine if every conversation you had with someone and everything they said was searchable. You can be like, “What was that thing they said?” No more wondering.
  • 37:45 I’m taking shorthand notes, writing as much as I can, and writing down my thoughts. I’m listening to what they’re saying, and this also helps me think. It’s amazing how people respond when I’m talking with them. When most people talk in normal conversation, they’ll say, “There are two things…” Everyone always says, “It comes down to two things,” but the only reason so many things come down to two things for people is because they can’t remember more than two things. A lot of things are more complicated. I’ll say, “I’ve got four things.” That’s really hard to do.
  • By taking notes, you can quote someone on something they said—this is efficient and the other person feels heard.

  • 38:36 I’m quoting them. This is probably something where, when you’re in person, you probably wouldn’t want to be typing away like a madman in a coffeeshop, but if you’re on the phone, you can get away with it a little bit more. Either way, even if you’re in person, take time at the end, just five minutes, to write down your commitments.
  • 38:55 Ben: Even after the fact, for yourself, you could build in however much time you needed to type out your own recap of the meeting and the things that they shared. Definitely get those commitments. I would add to this list a recap of the goal. The commitments between this meeting and the next are good, because you want to know what steps you’re going to be taking toward your goal, but if for whatever reason the target changes or shifts—or maybe you lose the context of why you’re committing to these tasks throughout the week—the goal is a good re-centering. I think that’s a really important piece of the meeting. Reiterate, “What are we really trying to do here?”

The Three P’s of Accountability

  • 39:49 Sean: What we’ve been covering today is partner accountability. I like to say that there are three p’s of accountability:
    • Public accountability
    • Partner accountability
    • Personal accountability
  • 40:03 I like to combine all of them. Usually, the personal one is weaker. We say we’re going to do something, but we don’t follow through. We don’t have a lot of stock in our own word. We don’t mind letting ourselves down, but we care about what other people think. Make a public commitment to do something and then get an accountability partner. That’s making a partner commitment. “Alright, this is what I’m going to do.”
  • 40:28 Then, make a commitment to yourself. It seems pointless, because you’ve already covered your bases. You’re like a partner with yourself. The version of you that wants to do something vs. the one that doesn’t—you’re making a pact, saying, “I’m going to do this.” Say it to yourself. “I’m going to stick to this,”—wake up early, blog weekly, or whatever it is.
  • Tell yourself what you’re going to do, and then you’ll end up following through because of public and partner accountability.

  • 41:01 When you follow through on that, you also build the personal accountability. You feel like you have more stock in your own word.
  • 41:08 Ben: That’s super important. I know there are people listening right now who feel like, “When I make a promise to myself, when I try to have personal accountability, I always end up letting myself down. I would like to avoid that. Go with the partner and the public, that’s fine, but I just don’t want to let myself down.” I totally get that. I understand that. When you’ve made a partner and a public commitment, when you have that strength of accountability, it’s an easier bet to make, holding yourself personally accountable because you have those other supports.
  • 41:54 It really is something that builds. When you make a commitment to yourself, even if it feels silly, and you follow through, you build that muscle. It shows you that, next time, you can follow through with things. I do follow through with what I say. You start to believe that about yourself, and you start to act out of that belief. I totally agree with that. If you have those other supports in place, definitely put the third one in place.

Practical Ideas

  • 42:29 Sean: This brings us to a segment I like to call, The Way I See It, With Cory Mccabe.
  • 42:36 Cory: I do have an accountability partner. His name is Zach, and he made a spreadsheet. There are two sections of it, Cory and Zach. It will say, “Here’s what I’m committing to this week,” and it will have the thing, a short little description. It will have a due date, whenever we’re meeting next. It’s due this date. Next to it, it will say, “Did you complete this? Yes/No.” You put a Y or an N, and it auto fills it out with colors and stuff. It’s really cool.
  • 43:14 Then it says, “Why?” I like that, because it’s like, “You failed? Why did you fail?” You’re like, “I did this. I did that.” You get to see it. It’s written out. Also, if you did complete it, it says, “Why?” I like that it says why even if you did complete it. It’s like, “What worked?” You get to look at that. There’s a section for notes, things like that. This spreadsheet is really nice, because we can see it. We both have access to it. It’s a Google Sheet or something.
  • 43:47 I would recommend having a sheet you can both see and view. It’s great to take notes, like you were saying. Definitely take notes during the call, but if you’re both able to see each other’s notes, you can make corrections.
  • 44:03 Sean: It’s a visual track record over time. Really good. I like that. Any final thoughts, Ben?
  • 44:15 Ben: It makes me want to complete the three P’s for this thing I’m working on. I kind of have a form of public accountability, but I don’t know. I have a couple of different forms of it. There’s here in the Community, but there’s also the people I’m going to be inviting into the project. I’ll have plenty of that, but I should get a person with whom I can maintain some accountability. I definitely need to promise myself I’m going to do it.
  • 44:52 Sean: I have it with my book for next week. I have it with myself, Aaron Dowd is my accountability partner for that week, and then I’ve told everyone, and I have to ship the book. It’s got to get done.
  • 45:12 Ben: Yeah. You made a promise to yourself. You’re holding yourself accountable.