Do Accountability Groups Work?
At AWAI’s Copywriting Bootcamp, the topic of accountability groups came up quite a few times. There was even a bit of controversy about how necessary accountability groups are … with some experts questioning if they even work.
On one side many A-level writers and coaches encourage building and participating in a group. On the other hand, a few experts argue they’re a waste of time, because you should be responsible for your own success … and if you’re not already invested in your own goals, no group is going to make you more invested.
It’s true you’re ultimately in charge of your own destiny. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have some support along the way … and such support can even be helpful in moving you forward. I’ve seen this first hand …
Here’s how my group works …
I’ve belonged to the same accountability group for over two years. Four of us formed it after Bootcamp 2014. Since then, we’ve grown to seven members. We cover all four time zones in the contiguous United States. We call ourselves the Coast-to-Coast Copywriters, or C2CC. (Of course, every group needs an acronym!)
We’re at varying levels in our pursuit of the writer’s life, and our niches cover a lot of subjects.
But, we have one key thing in common. We’re all seeking to be successful in a writing career, regardless of how we choose to define success. We know it’s up to the individual to make it happen, but we’re supportive and help one another get over hurdles along the way.
Some of our members are more computer savvy than others and are willing to share their technical knowledge. We act as a sounding board for ideas and talk things through whenever anyone is feeling stuck. We share our goals, successes, and mistakes, as well as encourage each other to stay on track. If someone in the group seems off track, we help identify potential reasons. Sometimes, one of us just needs a kick in the rear.
We’ve discussed how an entrepreneur gets health insurance and if you need to form an LLC or not. We share our experiences, offer valuable resources, and suggest expert contacts that help answer questions.
We have a call every Tuesday morning, which usually lasts an hour. Sometimes we go over, if we’re in an in-depth discussion. We don’t all make it to every call, but everyone tries to be there if possible. Our attendance record is pretty good considering everyone’s busy schedules. We also have our own secret Facebook group, where we ask questions, share successes, or discuss things between calls.
Anyone can suggest a topic beforehand or bring it up during the call. We’re not overly structured. One person acts as a facilitator who reminds everyone of the calls, asks for potential subjects, and tries to make the best use of our time. We’ve become great friends and have learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We offer support with non-work-related issues, as well.
Five out of the seven of us were at Bootcamp this year and enjoyed a rare face-to-face connection. The other two participated via the virtual event, sharing in the experience, as well.
Some key elements of a group
When putting together a group, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- What is said in the group, stays in the group
- Trust is essential, so people feel comfortable
- Be professional, but have fun
- No one is there to judge anyone else
- A little friendly competition to liven things up never hurts
- Everyone needs to have a strong desire to succeed
- Being within the same niche is not necessary
- Location doesn’t matter, as long as you have a way of reaching each other
- Meeting face-to-face is nice, but not essential
- Be willing to challenge each other
- Be patient with one another
- Offer understanding when someone fails
- Celebrate successes
- Encourage differing opinions and be tolerant of them
Maybe “accountability group” is not the right name
Recently Ben Settle wrote a blog suggesting that accountability groups are unnecessary to succeed. He feels you need to be self-motivated enough to make it on your own. And he has a point.
But after discussing it, we realized our group isn’t really an accountability group. We could be called a mini-mastermind group, a support group, an encouragement group, or maybe just a group of friends that enjoys writing.
Being a solo writer can be a lonely business … but it doesn’t have to be. It’s nice to know you have comrades available to discuss issues or ask for help. Even successful generals, world leaders, or other successful figures surround themselves with trustworthy people who offer support and help them when necessary.
So, rather than “accountability group,” consider forming a “Business Acceleration Coalition.” Members of my group, Jeff and Jan, came up with that description.
I think it has a nice ring to it, don’t you?
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