How to Use Accountability To Grow Your Business

(Episode 2 of 2 with Don Markland)

How to Use Accountability To Grow Your Business

Welcome back to another episode with Don Markland. In the last episode, we discussed four secrets Don learned over his entrepreneurial journey, including prioritizing family, learning from our mistakes, monetizing social platforms, and leveraging reviews. In today’s episode, we will discuss Don’s book, The 4Cs of Accountability: Unleash Your Inner Hero and how we can apply accountability to our own businesses. 

Accountability in Business

Bob Proctor, an author and philosopher, said, “Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results.” 


The importance of accountability came to Don in his mid 20s, when he was a successful executive but unhappy. He found that he was struggling to find balance in his life so he came up with his program, the 4Cs of Accountability, to help him become a better version of himself.  As Don started to follow his new program, he lost 70 pounds, prioritized his family, and started his own business. 

“All these things in my life started getting better and I could attribute it to that 4Cs of Accountability concept,” Don said. “The more I lived the 4Cs and the more I had other people live the 4Cs, the happier my life became, because without accountability . . . I couldn’t drive consistent results in my life.”

By implementing the 4Cs of Accountability, Don helped MoneySolver grow exponentially. When he first joined the company, they made a goal to get to $50 million in three years, and so Don started using the 4Cs of Accountability. Through his program, they crushed their goals and grew to $90 million in 3.5 years. Since building the program, Don has had many businesses come to him for coaching services and he has achieved lots of success. 

2 Rules of Accountability

In order to begin to implement accountability in our businesses, we first need to understand the two rules. 

  • Accountability Starts With Me

We can’t blame others for our mistakes and choices; we have to take accountability for ourselves. Even if someone else messes up, we can ask ourselves what we did to contribute to it. An employee might miss a deadline, but instead of blaming them, we can ask ourselves what we could have done better to help them. Maybe we need to follow-up weekly. Maybe we didn’t communicate what we wanted effectively.

Don gave the example of a wife asking her husband to pick up milk on his way home from work. When the husband doesn’t get the milk he shouldn’t say that he didn’t have enough time. He has to take accountability for his actions. He has to say, “I chose not to get the milk.” Only when we take accountability for our choices do things really start to change. The next day, the husband likely won’t forget to pick up the milk.

“Accountability starts with you,” Don said. “You don’t get to blame time; you get to blame your choice.”

  • There is No Ego in Accountability 

We can’t have an ego if we want to have accountability. We should learn to accept our mistakes for what they are and move on.

Don likes to give the metaphor of a baseball game. In baseball, you have three chances to hit the ball before you’re sent back to the bench. When you swing the bat and miss the ball, it’s called a strike. It doesn’t matter who calls it a strike, whether it’s the opposing team, your team, or the umpire. A strike is a strike and it will always be a strike.  

Yet, we still get frustrated when someone calls a strike. Or when someone calls us out on our mistakes. We think it’s not their job to call us out and we often call them out for their other mistakes to make ourselves feel better. However, we can’t have an ego in accountability. We shouldn’t care who calls us out for our mistakes; we should just accept it. In fact, we might even say, “Hey, thanks for having the guts to say I made a mistake. I appreciate it.”

It can be hard to hear feedback from others, but the truth is still there. We swung and we missed. We simply need to let go of our ego, regrip, and swing again. 

The 4Cs of Accountability

Once we understand the two rules of accountability, the 4Cs should come easily. Here are the 4Cs of Accountability:

  • Critique Success 

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, had the saying to “do it better.” He said, “I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.”

We can’t do everything right; we will mess up and make mistakes. The wonderful thing is, we don’t have to do it right every time, we just have to do it better and grow a little bit more. 

Don went to a Disney Leadership Institute Training in Florida. During the event, they had everyone follow in a small exercise. Everyone had to put their hands up in the air as high as they could go. Then, they said, “Now I want you to just stretch your hand half a centimeter higher.” And once everyone did it, they said, “All I expect you to do in this training, or in the next five days, is to grow just a little bit more.” 

Growth is just doing a little bit more every day. We should learn to critique our success so we can continually do better. Before we tell ourselves how amazing we are after a success, we should critique it to figure out what we did well and why, and what we can do a little bit better next time. 

“When you go do something great, . . . stop and grow; stop and critique it,” Don said. “Just before we get comfortable, how can we get a little more uncomfortable next time? That way you never rest on your laurels. You’re always just getting a little uncomfortable every time. We critique our success, we don’t rest on it.”

We critique_Blog

  • Correct Failure 

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We don’t punish mistakes, we correct them,” Don said.

Instead of punishing others or ourselves for messing up, we should take it as an opportunity to find what we can do better next time. We can try to pinpoint what we did wrong so we fix it and then move on. We should create an environment that encourages effort and failure with correction. 

“Mistakes occur; they’re always going to occur; we’re humans. But we correct them, and we roll. That’s important,” Don said. “Many environments punish failure, so people stop trying. . . . [Instead,] I want lots of effort, lots of trying, lots of mistakes, but I want corrections every time.”

  • Celebrate Growth 

We should learn to celebrate the hard and uncomfortable things. We don’t want to just celebrate success; we want to also celebrate growth.

“The hardest thing in his life to do is grow,” Don said. “If you’ve been to the gym, . . . the hardest thing to do is put extra weight on the bar. If you’re going to go do reps, . . . the hardest one is the last rep. That’s where the muscles rip and the lactic acid goes in and makes my muscles strong. That’s the one that took the choice. And that’s what we celebrate, not the 11 reps before it. We celebrate that hard thing, the growth thing, the uncomfortable thing.”

We should consistently choose growth and we should celebrate that like crazy. When you do things that are hard and uncomfortable, you grow. Celebrate it. When the Phoenix Suns, a basketball team made it to the finals and they won the first series, the coach encouraged them to go celebrate. Instead of getting them to memorize new plays or shoot more hoops, he asked his team to celebrate. 

We shouldn’t get so busy that we forget to celebrate growth. Celebration helps encourage us to do better and keep going. We can stop and take a moment to celebrate. 

  • Crush Mediocrity

“When we see [mediocrity], if we don’t crush it with everything, with real passion, it comes back and grows,” Don said. “You have to crush it like crazy.”

Don had a client he helped walk through the 4Cs of Accountability with. At the time, this client worked in real estate development and he had to make different calls throughout the day to help him buy properties. He didn’t like making calls so Don had the client text him how many calls he made each night. One night, the client was in bed and he realized he hadn’t made any calls that day. He was so frustrated he slapped his leg and when his wife asked him what he was doing, he said. “I’m crushing mediocrity.”

This is how we should deal with mediocrity. We can’t let ourselves settle for less. If we do it once, it becomes easier and easier to do it again. 

As we become more accountable by following the 4Cs of Accountability, we will likely become more successful as we continually grow and push ourselves to do the hard things. 

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Don for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

  1. Accountability ties commitment to results.
  2. Accountability starts with us. 
  3. We can’t let our ego get in the way of our accountability. 
  4. The 4Cs of Accountability are: critique success, correct failure, celebrate growth, and crush mediocrity. 

Connect with Don

To learn more about or connect with Don:

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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