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You need an accountability partner to help grow your personal brand.

I recently talked about the value of self awareness and seeking feedback from others on those things that hinder your personal brand. Once you get feedback, define the top three action items you can work on over the next six months to grow your brand. Track how you’re improving in those key areas over time and then go through the self assessments and feedback assessments again.

But every once in a while you just may need some help managing your action items.

A couple of years ago, I went through a detailed assessment and feedback survey from my leadership, colleagues and those who reported to me.

I was happy to get the feedback because, you know, feedback is a gift. But one piece of feedback from multiple people was a bit surprising: “Matt tends to be overly animated and makes exaggerated reactions.”

Whaaaaat??!! Me? I’ve never known myself to be overly animated. I always have a steadfast, self-controlled, stoic poker face. Right?

Apparently there was consistent feedback that said otherwise - feedback that said this is how Matt appears to his colleagues:

Jim Carrey Reaction GIF

Once I came to terms with the feedback, curbing my overly animated and exaggerated facial expressions was one of my top action items. But my approach to this action item had to be a bit different than the others. I knew I was going to need some help.

When you’re trying to curb a specific habit, especially one that you’re not always aware of, one of the best things you can do is call in an accountability partner. And that’s just what I did.

I met with one of my colleagues that worked fairly closely with me. I shared with her the feedback and my plan to curb that habit. She did a really great job at hiding her surprise that people thought I was overly animated.

Since she was in meetings with me more than anyone else, she was in the best position to gauge my reactions and help hold me accountable to curbing my habit. And she was happy to help. We set up a plan - when we were together in a meeting, and she noticed me being overly animated or making exaggerated reactions, she would signal me by lightly tapping her fingers on the table. I’d notice that, realize what I was doing and straighten up. Her tapping didn’t prevent me from being animated, but it helped me become more aware of it when it happened and to eventually become more aware just before it happened so I could stop it.

One day, I realized she was tapping her fingers on the table less and less, and then almost rarely. I checked in with her, and she confirmed that, yes, I was noticeably less animated. Success!

If you’re trying to curb a habit, or build a new habit, you may need the help of an accountability partner. If so, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find a friend, peer or mentor that you trust. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish they may need to be someone who interacts with you in-person regularly. Ask them to give you feedback (or even real-time signals like I did). 

Track how you’re improving in the area you’re managing and then go through the self assessments and feedback assessments again. Your peers should start to notice a difference, and you should too.

 

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