Our world is based on accountability. In most areas of our lives, we rely on a two-way exchange where either party agrees to deliver something, a good or service, to the other. We’re accountable in our home life to our partners or children. We’re accountable in our jobs to our team or supervisor. Accountability is not controlling or dictatorial. It’s a way that we show respect and do our part in building the environment and world in which we wish to live.

The bestselling author Bob Proctor says, “Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.” If we are intent on getting to the next level, we’re going to need someone there holding our feet to the fire.

In the book Making Ideas Happen (Scott Belsky), research shows that nagging is an effective tool to get things done (Hi Mom!). It’s been shown that the act of following up or holding someone accountable, puts a responsibility on the person that goes beyond the assignment at hand. It taps into the concept of identity and the idea of who we are as individuals at our core. It does the intrinsic work of making us want to be someone who delivers on our word. For many of us, this power of accountability can make or break our success.

Too often, there’s a negative connotation attached to the idea of accountability. It can feel restrictive as though it’s a figurative ball-and-chain that is limiting our freedom and mobility. But if we reimagine the concept of holding someone accountable to mean releasing them to their future, then we’ll see its positive impact. It’s not a weight as much as it’s an anchor. Accountability places someone else at the other end of our work who is dependent upon us to deliver. Sometimes, that someone is us. This is who you said you wanted to be in the future. Therefore, accountability releases you to be that person of your word. There is a future “you” waiting for you to show up. Iron sharpens iron and accountability is the push needed to be our best selves.

Finally, accountability helps us rebel against the tyranny of the urgent. As high achievers seeking to get a lot accomplished, there is always something competing for our time and attention. There’s always something that feels pressing. Dig into that impulse and investigate why something feels urgent. Who’s holding you to that pressing demand? When you’re held accountable, it will help prioritize the tasks in your life. As humans, it’s in our nature to provide excuses for ourselves that can cause us to lose focus and drive. Accountability is the secret ingredient in the recipe for success. We should be proactively seeking it for the things that matter most in our lives and careers.