This past Fall, my family and I took a week’s vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine. We have been there several times in the past, but this was the first year we decided to take a sailing tour with Captain Rich on the Schooner Eleanor. It was a gorgeous, sunny and early September day as we sailed through the channel and out into the Atlantic for a couple of hours up and down the rocky coastline. As the captain steered back towards port, it became obvious that he was waiting for something rather than making a direct turn back into the narrow waterway between the rocky outcroppings where the ocean and river met. When asked about the pause, he quickly responded that while the way may look calm and easy, there were incredibly strong waters just under the surface that could make the way back to port treacherous for the inexperienced. Many of us on the boat were distracted by dinner plans, being a few extra minutes late for happy hour and getting back to the hotel. While we possessed a desire to accomplish what we were certain was important, and we were sure that we knew the destination, we were missing one key ingredient. After twenty plus years of sailing, Captain Rich had a keenly developed a sense of what was necessary to make it back safely to shore that evening—discipline.
On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a crowd of close to 250,000 thousand people and delivered one of the most purpose-filled declarations in history. His clarion call to transform chaos into a symphony, to exchange despair for hope, and to overcome injustice with justice for all culminated in his most famous cry: “I have a dream!” It was this dream, this overarching purpose, and his unrelenting hold on its truth that shaped his entire life's work and continues to impact the world decades after his death. That is the power of purpose! What was so significant about King’s legacy is that there was never a gap between what he said needed to be done and the work he was willing to do to make it happen.
The trouble with accountability is that, well, you have to live it. Patrick Lencioni writes; “Once we achieve clarity and buy-in, it is then that we have to hold each other accountable for what we sign up to do, for high standards of performance and behavior. And as simple as that sounds, most executives hate to do it... .” For many CEO’s, Managers, and Team Leaders, the thought of doing the consistent work around holding others to a clear expectation, measuring results, as well as being transparent about their own personal performance can seem both daunting and uncomfortable.