The Biggest Reason For Failure On The Transformation Journey
Accountability is the fuel for transformation.
17 Aug 2020
I was asked on a recent Q&A why a member may fail on the RNT Journey.
Over the years I’ve come to see clear differences between those who succeed and those who don’t. Those who succeed get into the shape of their life, and stay there. They’re able to harness the power of the physical as the vehicle to achieve amazing things in all areas of their life. They transform, they don’t just change temporarily.
The answer comes down to the three transformation keys, which are commitment, consistency and coachability. People who hold all three are committed to the long-term journey, ruthlessly consistent over time and stay coachable through a growth mindset.
Being committed to the long-term journey means having an understanding that there are two sides to the equation. There’s more than just the first checkpoint. It’s committing yourself to the path of self-mastery that the five phases bring. It’s knowing that everything you do is part of the bigger picture, and each phase you work through links to and feeds off the others.
While you have this commitment, you know that building the momentum necessary to go through the phases requires ruthless consistency on a daily and weekly basis. It’s not enough to be good for a week, then try a new thing the following week. You have to tick the boxes consistently to turn the small wins into big successes.
To accelerate your results, you need to stay coachable through a growth mindset. Adopt the identity of someone who wants to accept feedback and seek improvement. Being fixed in your old ways will lead to the same results that have failed to serve you in the past. Being growth-oriented means answering the questions that may trigger you and using the answers to find the hidden lifestyle solution that may have evaded you thus far.
Fear Of Accountability
If I had to pick one transformation key that’s responsible for more failure on the journey than any others, it would be coachability. Transformation is a scary endeavour. You must shed the skin to reveal a new being. It comes with a new identity, behaviour and mindset that can be uncomfortable to step into.
The word coachability carries many meanings with it. It’s more than just having a growth mindset where you seek and embrace feedback. It’s about accountability. Being coachable is about holding yourself accountable. It’s turning the tables on the fear of accountability that runs in all of us. It’s an ego abolition.
Ego is a natural human tendency. We all suffer with an obsessive protection of our egos. In many of us, we also feed the ego to grow and develop. We all have it. Staying accountable breaks this on a daily basis. Whether it’s with yourself, your peers and/or a coach, accountability shatters the ego. Because now there’s no hiding.
Whether you look at yourself in the mirror every morning to check-in (self), message a group of friends or colleagues to stay on top of your journey (peer-level), or update a coach with feedback (coach-level), accountability is scary.
Fear of accountability is one of the biggest reasons why people fail on the journey. Yet, when I think about it on so many levels – in business, in our industry and even in our government, it runs deep.
In our business for example, if you’ve got a fear of accountability, you will not last. When new team members join, one of the most common questions we get asked is: Why have people failed working at RNT? Without hesitation, one of the team will always mention a fear of accountability, or specifically, being unable to take feedback or constructive criticism.
If we examine our fitness industry, there are zero accountability standards to anything. There’s no barrier to entry, no real governing body, no quality standards, nothing. It’s the wild, wild, west, an industry full of cowboys. That’s why our transformation journey was created, and it’s why I am not planning to only write about the lack of accountability in the industry, but define it. I’ll dive into this more another time, but if there’s one reason we have no accountability in this industry, it’s because of ego. It’s a dog-eat-dog industry with an ‘every man for himself’ mentality. This will change.
Further, I recently wrote about our UK Prime Minister’s Better Health Campaign, and that while it’s been positioned as yet another quick fix, the real problem is the complete absence of accountability: both for the client who may be trying it, and with the government to uphold their standards. Setting the bar high within government is to say, ‘We will transform X number of lives through our new campaign’. This means creating an accountability standard around it. That’s scary, and one which means they have to follow through on it. Knowing the government’s stance on health and fitness as a priority, that’s unlikely.
Why Does Fear Of Accountability Kick In?
When you create accountability, you create new responsibility. You create the potential for success. A fear of accountability is linked to a fear of success.
You may be thinking, isn’t ‘success’ a good thing?
It is if you know what success looks like for you, and what it means to you. Success creates new responsibility and uncertainty in a new being. To transform towards success, it requires becoming an unfamiliar new being. It’s scary to step into a new skin, which is why our first inclination is to resist and run away. Success equals a new status quo. Failure equals keeping it the same. If you fail, your internal core stays the same. That’s the easy way out because you no longer need to learn and adopt a new behaviour, mindset and identity. You can just continue living. If you succeed, you must work through a lot of ‘muck’ to break through. It’s painful in the short term, yet life changing in the long term.
This is why it’s the biggest reason for failure. When you’re on this journey, your decisions, thought processes, actions and standards will all be put under the spotlight. All of our personal bias, beliefs and behaviours are questioned. We have two options in the scenario. Run away and stay the same. Or lean in, embrace the uncomfortable difficulty, and come out the other side a new person. Most of the human race will opt for the former. It’s our duty as facilitators to encourage the latter. Even when we face resistance.
Fear Of Accountability In Consolidation
As we’ve worked with more people as a company, we’re noticing new trends. One interesting trend is when a fear of accountability tends to kick in the most.
The first is consolidation. Getting into shape to reach your first checkpoint is what’s thought of as the ‘standard’. Yet, our industry has conditioned most clients to fail after that, rebound, yo-yo and try something new. That means consolidation is an opportunity to succeed against an industry norm, and against something you may have been fighting with your whole life. Without a looming checkpoint, this phase can create a fear of accountability as your 3Ss (structure, strategy and systems) will force you to exert control on your behaviour and daily practices. This can be uncomfortable for some. It’s easy to run and hide.
I experienced this in 2014, in an episode in my life that triggered the formation of The Consolidation Phase. One of the reasons I rebounded so hard was because I had a fear of accountability. I dropped all my accountability systems at my checkpoint and rode what I thought was the ‘success train’ of being in the shape of my life. Little did I know that was only one half of the equation, and I set myself up for failure. I stopped using my coach because I was too scared to face the reality. On reflection, all it led to was failure and disappointment. At the time though, it was the easy thing to do; I didn’t need to confront anyone, nor learn anything new. I could fall back on my status quo.
Consolidation is a time where your ability to self-justify is sky high. Our natural inclination to being held accountable to our decisions, rationale, thoughts and standards is to run away at all costs. What 2014 taught me is that if you have any plans to stay in shape and truly transform, you must grab accountability with both hands.
Fear Of Accountability In Investment
The second stage that a fear of accountability kicks in is in The Investment Phase. Once you’ve consolidated effectively and you begin investing, you’re faced with the potential reality that you may just stay in shape for life, and not need to try something new again. That in itself is a complete paradigm shift.
The hardest part of an Investment Phase is that it can be one filled with intangible gains. Wherever you place yourself on the investment continuum (Lifestyle Solution vs Muscle Builder), your approach is underpinned with a need to rewire your behaviour, identity and mindset in order to stay in control and be in shape for life. In this phase, your only tangible measure will be from your physical performance. All the internal rewiring will be intangible. You’ll be experimenting with rules, undergoing trial and error with new behaviours and learning how to live in a new identity you’re creating. You can’t objectively measure this with tangible data. But you can measure it with real-life progress over time.
If you’re controlling your bodyweight, adhering to your rules, being a high performer in your biggest priorities, and your lifestyle solution is becoming more automatic, you know you’re in the right direction.
It’s not straightforward though, which is why the first natural reaction for us is to knee jerk and reject accountability. When we’re questioned on our behaviour, it’s easier to avoid the conversation. When our thought process is being scrutinised, running in the opposite direction is the path of least resistance.
Which is why when I was asked what the biggest reason for failure on the journey is, staying coachable at every phase and leaning into accountability trumps all.
When you’re committed, consistent and coachable at every stage of the journey, stagnation isn’t possible. The underpinning element in all phases is accountability, and being able to respond effectively to it. When I look at all our members who’ve stayed in shape, continued to make progress, and developed into high performers, they have one commonality that ties in with the three transformation keys: they lean into accountability. They embrace it, seek it and thrive off it, every day and week. There’s a clear correlation between accountability and continued transformation. Remember, transformation is an evolving process with a journey that never ends. Growth doesn’t stop. You simply repeat the cycle at a new level to access a level above. As humans, we’re wired to be comfortable in stagnation. Accountability holds us to higher standards. We all need it. It’s the fuel for transformation, and when you lean into it over the weeks, months and years, you will slowly witness yourself becoming a new being.