Transitions Coaching Blog

Thoughts. Reflections. Intentions.

The Parrothead Principle: Change, Colleagues & Friendly Accountability

By Karen Konrath, Leadership Coach  |  June 2, 2016

Truth be told, I’m a huge Parrothead!

You know, the other word for “die-hard Jimmy Buffett fan”?!  Yes, Jimmy and I go way back.

My kids, now 17 and 19, know all of the words to his songs.  My husband’s wardrobe is half “Margaritaville” t-shirts – gifts from me over the years. And when I need a break from reality, my go-to playlist involves some, if not all, Buffett tunes. (Hey, everyone needs a break from reality!)

Ask any Parrothead and they’ll tell you: being part of this community brings its own “paradise” of connection.

Over the past month, I’ve been thinking about how hard it is it reach a goal or change a habit on our own. It just is. Yet so many of us want to resist help from others.

When my clients are embarking on a journey of change, I always ask them what kind of support they will need. Sometimes I hear, “Oh, I know the perfect person, how I want to engage them and what I want from them!”

But more often I hear, “I don’t think there’s anybody. I got this,” or “What?  Why would I do that?”

Why do we think our problems are only our own to solve?

Recently, as I was listening to this same sentiment from one of my clients, a Jimmy Buffett line ran through my head. It’s from his 1994 album, released after a five-year hiatus from recording, and it grapples with the idea that when we focus on our differences, we limit the ways we can connect:

Relationships. We’ve all got ‘em. We all want ‘em. What do we do with ‘em?

“That’s it!” I think. We’re all in relationships, at home and at work. How do we make sure we use them well?!

In my group-coaching program, I set up peer-coaching pairs because I have seen firsthand how powerful accountability is in helping people to achieve their professional goals. These relationships not only provide much needed support, they also offer a tad bit of good old fashioned peer pressure.

After all, I don’t know about you, but I’m much more likely to go for a run, a hike, a walk when I know that someone is counting on me to go with them (whether that’s a friend, my husband or even my dog). And there’s evidence to back this up. Researchers at Brown and Dartmouth, for example, recently discovered that people lose more weight when undertaking that goal together.

So how do you take this concept and apply it at work?

Find yourself an accountability partner

If you are embarking on a professional development journey, why not find yourself an accountability partner?

Still unsure of “what to do” with that kind of relationship? Here’s a basic structure to consider:


  1. Find someone you trust (a different personality from you is good, maybe even better).
  2. Let them in. Tell them about your goal. Explain why what you’re working on is important to you.
  3. Get specific. Tell them about the actions you want to take to meet this goal (and where there are opportunities to do so). Share both the consequences and rewards you will realize for taking or not taking them.
  4. Ask them to help you. Be specific. Are you giving them permission to gently (or not so gently) call you out on old behaviors you are trying to let go of? Are you asking for positive reinforcement when they see you trying on the new behaviors you’re working on? Both? Something else?
  5. Set up regular check-in times, whether through formal meetings, informal email updates or texts. The point is that you keep them up-to-date on your progress.

In the spirit of Parrothead community connection, try it on. Have fun with it! Jimmy would want you to!!

Navigating Change in your Workplace?

Subscribe to our blog to receive monthly blog posts about best practices in professional transitions.

Executive Coach Karen Konrath works and writes out of Milwaukee, WI. She founded Transitions Coaching to encourage, support and inspire leaders in their pursuit of personal fulfillment and professional success. Learn more about Transitions Coaching.