How to Have Some Fun with Your Accountability (Seriously!)


I was having one of those bad days – I mean, really bad days. Nothing seemed to be working right. It was almost comical. The stoplights even turned red as I approached them. (They really did.) I didn’t want to tell anyone about it, when I was reminded of a great antidote to pull me from getting mired in judgment.

Benjamin Zander, a well-known conductor, teacher at the Berklee School of Music and author of The Art of Possibility, teaches his students to comment on their performance by simply saying “How Fascinating!” No matter whether there were many mistakes or few, they say “How Fascinating!” after every performance. What happens is that his students stay in a learning place, rather than judging themselves and cutting off their capacity to learn.

We know our clients are pushing boundaries of their comfort zones in leadership development. As we venture into unknown territories and slip and fall as we negotiate the new terrain, it is so easy to be hard on ourselves here, as you might imagine. It may be successful. It may not. Instead of making a sweeping judgment of what we have or have not done, I teach my clients to simply say “How Fascinating!” As we do it, they start to grin. And THIS puts them in a wholly different frame of mind.

By saying a simple “How Fascinating!” we tend to: (1) get to more of a nonjudgmental place; and (2) take ourselves a little more lightly. From here, we can ask ourselves the deeper questions, like “What am I learning?” “What do I really want?” “What is next, and what would get me there?”

Try it for yourself. On your next results due date, no matter what’s taken place — whether you can’t believe another month went by and that still isn’t done. Or whether you exceeded everyone’s expectations. How Fascinating!

And see where it might take you.


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