Starting an Accountability Group

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At the end of 2018, as I was putting together my goals and plans for 2019, I wanted to put together an accountability group both to help myself and help others. Many people talk about joining mastermind and accountability groups but most sit around waiting to be invited. Here’s how to start your own:

Accountability vs. Mastermind

To start, this is a post about accountability groups – not mastermind groups. I’ve been part of a mastermind group before and have spoken on the topic (slides here). Mastermind groups have some sort of similarity, either in expertise, industry or niche.

Accountability groups, on the other hand, do not require the participants to have anything in common except the desire to do better. The group I put together has a couple of bloggers, a drone photographer / videographer, and manufacturers in food, plastics and biotech (that’s 3 different people). But we all are driven to push ourselves.

How to Start an Accountability Group

To start, identify individuals you admire for their drive. To identify these people, I looked through my Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections. I was hoping for a group of 3-4 and, expecting some to not reply or say “no,” I invited 6 people. To my surprise, everyone said “yes.”

Here’s the email I sent to these individuals:


I'm looking to form a small Accountability Group (not a Mastermind) of 4-6 individuals. What you're working on doesn't matter, as long as you're setting stretch goals and are serious about working towards them.

You'll be committing to 2019Q1; after Q1, I may ask you to re-commit for Q2, or you can leave the group, or you can ask other members to leave with you and do your own thing. I'm committing to 1 quarter, and that's all I'm asking of you.

*** Everything discussed in the group remains with the group!

Why am I doing this?
Because I need it myself. I know I can do more and I know I can do better. I want you to help me.

How much?
Let's get this out of the way: there is no monetary cost to you, but I'm asking you to commit your time.

Why me?
Because you're someone who I see as motivated, who understands the importance of goal setting, and I value your input. This group has nothing to do with anything else I'm involved in and is outside any other relationship we have. You'll be working with me, the individual.

What's involved?
To start, we need to set goals. I'm sure you have systems for this, as I do, too. Whatever works for you. Then, I imagine a weekly routine:

- Meet Monday Morning
What are you going to get done this week?

- Wednesday email check-in
How's the week going? Any adjustments?

- Meet Friday late-afternoon
How did you do this week?

As we near the end of Q1, it'd be great to think about the dynamic of the group, if anyone should be added, removed, and then start to set up Q2 goals.

I'm looking for a yes or no by Friday the 28th. Saying "no" is hard, so if you don't reply to this email I'll take it as a no with no hard feelings. I'd rather you say "no" than say "yes" and not be committed.

Disclosure: we haven’t kept to this weekly schedule at all yet. We’re still figuring things out.

The next email was as follows:


Hi there,

Thanks for responding to my invitation to join an accountability group. Many of you replied that you also feel like you can be doing more, so let's do it in 2019!

==> Remember, everything* here is covered under what my buddy Todd calls a FrieNDA. We're not going to sign anything, but what's said here stays here. I put the * next to "everything" because if someone in the group feels like you may do physical harm to yourself or someone else, we will seek help for you.

Let's get started with basic introductions:
Name:
Location:
LinkedIn profile:
Employment & such status:

How do you like to interact?
Recurring meetings: Google Hangout, phone call, something else
Quick messages: Slack, Facebook Group, something else
Big, slower messages: Email list, something else

What about goals? What goal setting technique are you using? Do you set annual themes? Or mantras or something?

And getting things done? How do you work through your day?

Finally, why did you say "yes"?

I'll get started (mainly so I can adjust the questions as I answer them)

We primarily communicate via email (we use a Google Group) and have had a couple of calls via Google Hangouts (video helps build rapport within the group, and keeps everyone focused on the call and not multitasking).

WhenIsGood.net is a great site (with a terrible interface) for finding a time that works for everyone to get together. When we identify a problem a few members of the group are having, we’ve scheduled a call to discuss the problem, what we’ve tried (and the results) and those of us in the group who have overcome this problem in the past can share our experiences.

Getting started isn’t difficult:

  1. Identify those with great drive whom you admire
  2. Email them, inviting them to work with you
  3. Set up a Google Group for communication

We’re only a few weeks in but so far have been consistent on weekly wrap-ups. It’s good to look back on your week, celebrate your accomplishments, recognize your failures and identify problems with the week ahead.

Here’s the thing about an Accountability Group: everyone’s waiting to join one, but nobody is willing to start one. Take the first step – you and those you choose to invite into your group will all benefit.

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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