May 28, 1993


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A paradigm shift has occurred in college football over the past decade. In years past, student athletes were released for the summer to return to their hometowns to work, reunite with friends and relatives, and to participate in a self-regulated preparation for the next season.

The test of a successful summer came in August when the players returned to school for two-a-day practices. Coaches tested their players to see who had worked hard during their summer break. Conditioning drills would be run over and over to weed out those who were obviously lazy while at home. Those who had put on too much weight or reported out of shape faced a blistering August.

Unfortunately, many failed the test each year. For some schools, those days are over now. In recognition of the difficulty of maintaining the self-discipline it takes to properly prepare for the season, coaching staffs are asking players to stay on campus and help each other reach their goals as a team. And guess what—it’s working.

Players are entering the season better prepared, and the team is able to focus less on testing for conditioning and more on preparation for the season ahead. It’s very simple to see why this shift has occurred; coaches recognize that when left unto ourselves, we are weak. Even a 6 foot 7 inch college football player with an NFL contract on the line finds it hard to have self-discipline to eat less and run more. The foundational concept at work is accountability. Athletes need it and so do those who want to win in ethical behavior.

Has someone ever stood looking over your shoulder as you worked on a project or task? If so, chances are you didn’t like it. Most people don’t. And they like it even less when someone checks up on them to make sure they’re being honest and responsible. Yet, that is what I’m suggesting you invite people to do if you want to live by the Golden Rule—because nothing helps to keep a person honest like accountability.

It’s ironic. We don’t like to be reminded of our shortcomings, and we don’t like our shortcomings exposed to others either. But if we want to grow, we need to face the pain of exposing our actions to others. Integrity is the foundation of a person’s life, and accountability is the cornerstone. It gives teeth to our pledge to live to high ethical standards.

We all need accountability, I guess. The other day while visiting my accountant his secretary mentioned that she needed to get a notary to sign off on a document from a priest for a piece of property she was selling. She commented that that was strange—to get a notary to back up the word of a priest. But, as she pointed out, we all need accountability, no matter our position in life.

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