October 24, 2019 / 4 Comments
At 56 years old, I’ve been around long enough to know that most people lack the one trait, skill, virtue or habit, that would help them succeed in any area of life. It’s nothing terribly complicated or hard to acquire (in my opinion). That simple trait is accountability. This means being responsible for your words and actions, and following through with what you said you would do. It’s as simple as that.
I thought that following instructions and meeting deadlines was the normal thing to do.
When quite a few years ago I became the editor-in-chief of a large digital publication, I would soon learn that I was wrong. Writers would not turn in their articles on time, they’d fail to adhere to the writing guidelines and, when they finally sent in their work, I would later have to hound them so they’d turn in their invoice to get paid.
At one point I was also responsible for doing blogger outreach. In that capacity I learned that many, many bloggers are prone to missing deadlines, failing to send recaps of the work and even ghosting the PR who hired them.
Of course this doesn’t happen only in the writing or blogging world. Photographers, designers, consultants … you name it. If they work for themselves, lack of accountability is a huge issue for anybody who hires them.
When a PR commends me for turning my work in when I said I would, it still surprises me that what should be a given stands out. I’m also taken aback when I get asked whether I can recommend other writers or bloggers who are “reliable.” They no longer ask if they’re good at what they do. It’s more important to know they will not miss a deadline.
I find that mind-boggling.
I mean, if you don’t show up to the gig, or you half-ass it, miss your deadline, cause the person hiring you all kinds of trouble, and then make them chase you for recaps and invoices, unless you’re a household name -and even then- my guess is you won’t get hired again.
If you need to ask for a deadline extension, more information, or anything else, it’s quite ok to send a heads up in the form of an email, a text or (gasp) a phone call. Most people will be willing to accomodate if you communicate with them in advance. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and unless it’s materially impossible, most of us understand shit happens. But we want to know about it!
Well, that’s it. That’s what I got for you. Do you have accountability? If not, why not? This truly is the most important trait to have if you want to freelance or be an entrepreneur. If you need someone to be after you every day to make sure you get stuff done, then, quite honestly, you’d be better off getting a job.