Dr. Doug Hirschhorn is a partner with the University of Miami Alumni Association, providing insight on excelling in your life and maximizing your potential. Send him your thoughts, comments and questions at alumniweb@miami.edu.


March 22, 2007 - A Journey to Greatness
April 19, 2007 - Why?
May 17, 2007 - Gaining Self-Awareness
June 21, 2007 - Taking the C.H.A.M.P. Approach to Setting Goals
July 19, 2007 - Taking Smart Risk September 20, 2007 - It All Comes Down to Accountability

September 20, 2007

A Journey to Greatness

It All Comes Down to Accountability

By Doug Hirschhorn, Ph.D.

Over the past six months, we have traveled together on a Journey to Greatness. This month is the final step in the process and if there is anything I have learned as a Peak Performance Coach to the elite, it is that it all comes down to accountability.

You see, we all have dreams of things we want to achieve but for most of us, we somehow fail to actually obtain them.

We are led to believe that people get to where they want to be because of hard work and positive thinking. Books like The Secret have become a world-wide phenomena as a result. While I do think a positive mind is important, my experience as a peak performance coach has taught me that there is a little more to it than just thinking the right thoughts.

You might agree with me and say, “Of course, you have to take action on those thoughts.” Fine, but let me shed some light on what really makes the difference in separating mediocrity from greatness.

Getting in Shape
Suppose you want to get in better shape. You are tired of feeling lethargic and self-conscious about how you look when walking around in sunny South Florida. Maybe you will go as far as taking the time to put together a great plan for success, complete with goals, rules and structure. Good for you because you have taken some form of action. But now comes the real question. Will you make it happen? In other words, are you willing to be held accountable by a trainer to make sure you follow through with your strong desire and great plans to get in shape?

Improving Sales
Suppose you are in the real estate market and want to improve your sales numbers. We all know the real estate market has taken a hit. Things are sitting on the market for much longer than they ever have and people are just not as liquid as they used to be. The cascading effect is starting to hit all areas around you but one thing has not changed and that is you still have to pay your bills each month.

You can go ahead and think positive thoughts. That may help you sleep a bit better at night. But what is really going to change things for you is to stop being a victim of your reality and instead hold yourself accountable to devising a plan. Put pen to paper. If you don’t have the discipline to do it on your own, then turn to a spouse, parent, friend, or colleague to hold you accountable.

Financial Advisor/Wealth Manager
You are well liked, respected and trusted in the community. You have been in the business for close to a decade now, you are quickly becoming an expert in you industry and are ready to take your career to the next level. Have you taken the time to think what gives you an edge over your peers? Why would a client choose to work with you in managing his or her wealth? What exactly is your competitive advantage?

One way to uncover this would be to keep a daily journal of what you are doing well, what you are doing poorly and, most importantly, what steps you are going to take next time to improve. Do you have the self-discipline to type this up each day so you can monitor your self-improvement? As a trusted source for your clients, you would certainly advise them about the long-term value of slow and steady improvement so why would you operate by a different set of standards for your own career growth? Don’t just think about it, do it. And to make sure you do it, hold yourself accountable by emailing it to your direct report.

Legal Ladder
You are at a large law-firm. Moving up the ranks takes time but you want to speed up the process as best you can. You want to separate yourself from your peers so the partners notice you and put you on the fast track. Does wanting higher levels of pay, responsibility and recognition at the firm make you unique? Does driving home each night dreaming about it make it happen any quicker? The answer to both questions is, unfortunately, “No.”

What if you outlined your personal development plan and in that plan you identified the areas you need to focus on in order to get yourself on the partners’ radar screen. Good idea, right? Now you need to do it. You are busy. I know, we all are. But if you cannot make time for greatness then you don’t deserve to achieve it. You need to be held accountable by someone on the outside. A person whose only job is to make sure you do the things you say you want to do so you can achieve the things you say you want to achieve. Invest in yourself and hire a coach.

As these four examples show, accountability is the key element to breaking away from frustration and moving towards solutions. Most people are afraid of accountability because it is a form of asking for help. Help may be a four letter word, but it is not a bad one so get over it and find a coach if you are unable to coach yourself.

The beauty of accountability is that it does not require much time to implement. It can be quick phone conversations or short emails. You ready for a challenge? Instead of passively waiting for someone to push you, try this strategy instead. Go in to work tomorrow and tell your boss you would like to start emailing her your daily performance plan by the close of business each day. Let her know you would love her feedback but don’t expect any because you understand she has many other responsibilities. Instead you want to email it to her so you can be held accountable. Why? because you are choosing to Dare to be Great.

After typing this piece up, I realized something, I owe each and every one of you more. You deserve more than just words so here is what I am going to do to be held accountable. Instead of just talking the talk for these past six months, I am going to walk the walk.  

As you all know, I am a peak performance coach and get paid to hold top performers on Wall Street and at major financial institutions accountable. As you may or may not know, I am from Miami. My grandmother, Audrey Finkelstein, is an icon in the community and was one of the first women to graduate from the University of Miami. I played my youth baseball at the local Howard Palmetto Khoury league and graduated from Palmetto High School in 1990.

Here is my offer, I will be your private coach for the month of September 2007. I don’t want your money, I just want your effort and if you cannot afford that then truthfully, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to be held accountable then email me your plan for whatever it is your want to achieve. My personal email address is doug@doughirschhorn.com  

I truly want to thank the University of Miami Alumni Association and all of you for giving me this opportunity to be your guide on our six-month Journey to Greatness. As I type this final sentence, my only hope is that you have gained some value from this experience so you can make a change in your life by Daring to be Great.