One of the main reasons athletes and sports folk retain a coach, sign up to a coaching programme or even using tools like Training Peaks is because they want to be held accountable.
Accountability is definitely one of the most effective ways to make sure you deliver on what you say you’re going to do: if you have to report back to someone it’s 100 per cent more likely you’ll actually do it. Even just telling a friend or you partner can work in that respect.
However, danger can lurk if you think engaging a coach or signing up to a coaching programme provides a turn-key solution. I had an athlete tell me recently that they wanted their coach to hold them more accountable. Does that mean requesting more feedback more often? Or did it mean they were looking for a whip-cracking, Brett Sutton style of coach? Did they feel they weren’t getting results and it was the coach’s fault for not nagging them more?
It doesn’t matter. What’s really going on here is passing the buck. Coached training works but, being accountable to yourself is more important and where the real juicy results are found.
Accountability is about having integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do. Then being able to put your hand up and say ‘this is what I need to do better’ if you don’t get it right. Being accountable is not making excuses, not blaming others or whinging and complaining. Accountability is taking ownership of something and making sure you ‘know your job and do your job’ 100% of the time.
Accountability happens when you are the one critiquing your own performance. This is what successful people do. This is what tough athletes do. Remember it is not your coach’s fault if you lose focus or put in a poor performance.
I’ve seen clients who want to be the best athlete in whatever sport and they talk a big game. But then they never show up to training, don’t work consistently, eat wrong or slack off in other ways. Goals without accountability are pipe-dreams. The successful athletes are those who are not worried about trying to impress and instead focused on behaving the way they need to to hit their mark.
Being accountable isn’t something that just happens. It isn’t the coach telling you what you did or didn’t do right that week or in that session. It isn’t the data saying you are on track. Yes, feedback is essential but you need a process or a system that helps you to be accountable. You need to evaluate your performance and work out steps for future improvement. Set the goal – develop the plan – put it into practice.
Being really clear about your goals in the first place will help you stay accountable. Communicate it with your coach, be clear, concise and constructive. Follow through too – own the responsibility and execute the plan. Critical is to focus on the process and not the outcome. Yes, the end goal is to be a faster, stronger, fitter athlete but being accountable for the steps it takes to get there is what will get you there.
Being accountable entails controlling only those things that you can control; preparation, attitude, skill development, training, effort and focus. Being accountable requires that you look within.
If you’re finding that you’re putting in place accountability measures but still falling short of hitting your goals then it’s likely your goal setting strategy needs work. A goal-setting session is where I recommend any of my clients start. It’s more than writing down your plans. Done properly it’s a robust and methodical process that ensures your goals are achievable and in harmony with your life and your identity. Too often we fall short of goals because we didn’t put in place what we needed first or the goal was out of synch with our life.
The sessions I run are a super effective strategy for identifying potential future roadblocks so you can work out how to deal with them before the training gets derailed. The session will help you work out what resources, skills and tools you will need to achieve your aims.
I prefer to call goal-setting creating well-formed outcomes because you want goals to end with real results not just pipe dreams. I will be running another workshop on goal-setting before the end of the year but if you want to benefit from a bespoke one-to-one session get in touch. Your future self will thank you.