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Success Advice

The Surprising Truth About Why You Need Accountability to Reach Your Goals




Why do you visit sites like Is it because you are a naturally productive person who is never derailed, and you want to lend a hand to us lesser beings?  Or because you often struggle staying productive?

Perhaps building positive habits is a challenge for you, and you hope to learn how to defeat that multi-headed hydra we call procrastination. I’m guessing it’s not benevolent pity that brings you to this site, but the desire to improve yourself.

In fact, the majority of us deal with these challenges, and have had to teach ourselves the strategies to keep ourselves on task. It’s as if we have to coax and whip ourselves to move towards the success we are after.

The rise in popularity of productivity blogs and websites begs the question, “Why are we so unskilled at getting things done?”

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephen Covey

What Happened to Us in School?

It could be easy to chalk up our floundering to a lazy human nature, but there is a somewhat hidden cause at play. Presuming you went to public school, do you remember those 10,000+ hours of training you had there? Would you even call it training?  

That’s a lot of time to learn a multitude of life skills and the tools for success, but did that actually occur? I certainly don’t remember being taught the productive habits that would help me build an independent livelihood, and it’s not as if this knowledge is new.   

Like you, I was never instructed how to schedule my tasks to ensure they get done, or how to deconstruct the steps needed to achieve my goals. I never got to shadow professionals in various fields or take an apprenticeship in something that stimulated my interest. How about you?

Did you learn the Pomodoro technique or strategies to beat procrastination? How about how to read and construct a contract, or the secrets of wealth creation?   

I’m pretty sure you didn’t, because that’s just not what public school is designed to teach. You learned to memorize and regurgitate facts, and to read and write just well enough to function as a ‘good employee’. But it goes further than that.  

We also learned some very specific behaviour patterns that affect our motivation and drive as adults. This was a very subtle process and we aren’t likely to remember it well, because it started when we were too young to discern what was happening.

We Are Shaped By Powerful Forces

Give me a child and I will give you the man” which is a Jesuit motto and “Give me a child and I will shape him into anything” by B.F. Skinner are two quotes that share a common theme, but you might be wondering what they have to do with you. Well, quite a lot as it turns out. Remember; if you attended public school, you started as a child of four or five years old.  

Good ol’ B.F. Skinner, whose words eerily echo the founder of the Jesuit order, was highly influential in the formation of the public education system, and how the curriculum is delivered. Both of these men knew that the adult mind could be shaped by the events of childhood, and they knew that a person could be programmed. So then, what were we programmed with in public school?

Approval-Seeking Behaviour

We learned to seek the approval of our authority figures in the form of praise and ‘good’ grades, and to avoid disapproval in the form of punishment and ‘bad’ grades. What we learned, was to be externally motivated and this was reinforced over 10,000+ hours, year after year.

The opposite would be to encourage and support children to pursue what interests them. No grades, no standardized testing. But that, of course, is a different society. Still not convinced? Here’s a simple example: Have you ever held the door for someone and they didn’t say thank-you? Did you find yourself bothered and cursing under your breath? Perhaps you shouted a salty, “You’re welcome!” at them.

But why would it bother you if you were simply doing what was right in that moment?  Did you need the approval and praise to be courteous? Certainly it’s nice to receive praise, but it shouldn’t be needed if your motivation was in the right place. But we were trained to seek it out.

“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.”

So What To Do About This?

Bear in mind that this article is a simplified synopsis of a rather complex issue, and in fact many books have been written on the subject. So let’s focus on the main point as it applies to productivity. As adults, many of us struggle with a lack of skills and a stunted internal drive to consistently get things done.

Of course, overcoming this first hurdle starts with learning and teaching yourself the skills you need to guide your own productivity. Developing your internal drive takes time, clarity of goals and understanding the consequences if you decide to waste your time instead. And there is also a powerful tool you can use to reach your goals faster and more consistently. That tool is…


This can mean different things to different people, but simply put, when we make our goals and deadlines known to others, we are more likely to stick to our timelines and meet them. A big reason for this goes back to our programming in school and the accountability our teachers held us to. Nobody can make you strive for your goals, but having someone there who cares about your progress helps keep your motivation high.

You can start your own accountability group with friends or colleagues, join a mastermind group, or hire an accountability coach to keep you fired up and on task. Most of us can use all the help we can get to move past the counter-productive behaviours we learned as children, so make sure this strategy is in your productivity tool belt.

Have you started using accountability in your life? How has it helped? Leave your thoughts below!

Nigel Cook runs Holding Your Feet to the Fire where he helps his clients stay on track with their goals and projects by providing them with step-by-step action plans, supportive accountability and solution-oriented feedback. Be sure to grab your free copy of The Quick Guide to Reaching Your Goals Faster.

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Success Advice

20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator



Emile Steenveld Speaker and Coach

Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.

Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.

But, don’t worry if you don’t naturally possess this skill, as effective communication is something that can be developed with practice, planning and preparation.

1.  Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.


2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.


3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.


4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.


5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.


6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.


7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.


8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.


9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.


10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.


11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.


12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.


13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.


14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.


15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.


16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.


17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.


18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.


19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.


20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.


By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.

I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at so you can master your life with more success.

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You’re the manager. You’re the supervisor. You’re the leader. But maybe your people don’t see it that way



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You’re the manager. You’re the supervisor. You’re the leader. But maybe your people don’t see it that way and perhaps that has created a divisive and adversarial working environment that makes it difficult for you to influence and inspire your team in a way that meets your vision. (more…)

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A blueprint for CEOs to draw a disciplined strategy



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Strategic thinking helps CEOs build successful businesses. It helps them establish everlasting enterprises. It is one of the key elements of decision-making. It is different from strategic leadership. It differentiates between leaders from managers.  (more…)

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How to Focus Your Mind on Your Goals in 2023 Constructively

In this world of distractions due to information overload, it has become a big challenge to focus our minds



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In this world of distractions due to information overload, it has become a big challenge to focus our minds on positive aspects and constructive activities. Sometimes we waste our precious time mentally and physically due to distractions arising out of technology. We must understand our priorities and learn how to focus on them religiously. (more…)

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