The Most Underrated Skill in Wealth-Building


Wealth-building comes down to a mix of skills and action.

Unless you were a trust fund baby or received a significant inheritance in your youth, you probably rely on your skill set to generate wealth. Have you truly tapped into the wellspring of your talents, or are you overlooking one of your most essential wealth-building skills?

I’m talking about accountability.

Your ability to be accountable means everything in increasing personal wealth. In fact, it’s probably the missing piece to finally solve the jigsaw puzzle of a lackluster portfolio, creating a picture of a lucrative future where you can succeed at exceptional levels.

The Buck Stops — and Starts — With You

Skills pay the bills in today’s world.

The more of them we learn, the more we succeed. And yet, they don’t make us rich on their own. The difference between learners and earners is that the latter are passionate about staying accountable, which translates to an innate love of their chosen professional path and wealth.

It seems so simple, but most people overlook personal responsibility as a factor in fiscal achievement. This stems from a flaw in our general mindset, namely how drawn we are to shiny, bright solutions rather than modest, proven alternatives. Why spend less, save more, and invest wisely when we have baubles to fixate on?

When we carry that kind of impulsive mentality, nothing gets built upon. Instead, you find yourself stuck in a hole that you’re constantly trying to dig yourself out of.

For instance, take a hypothetical guy named Bill. He hates his job, everyone knows he hates his job, but he diligently sits in his cubicle every day under depressing fluorescent lights to collect that paycheck. Or look at Jane. She’s in a toxic, co-dependent relationship and has no intention of leaving it because all her material needs are provided.

Bill and Jane are each unable to see past the present and look toward life’s greater possibilities. They know what’s in front of them but choose to look past it. Wealth-building is a choice we all make — one we can opt into based on learning what our options are and pursuing them. Accountability isn’t sexy, but it is reliable and actionable, and it can become a learned behavior.

Money Talks — Now Make It Walk

Ready to rip apart the fabric that keeps you in static mode? Start developing financial accountability with these strategies:

  1. Break it all down.Would you try to eat a whole turkey in one sitting? Unless you were an alligator or dinosaur, probably not. So, I ask, why try to take everything down in one bite? Break your goals into smaller pieces, and write them down in your work journal, on your phone, or on your bathroom mirror. For instance, if you want to stop gambling, cut yourself off from it for a designated period, stick to it, and reward yourself. I became an avid goal setter long ago when I realized it behooved me to stop lollygagging through life. Now, I set 30 to 40 goals per year and complete around 80 percent of them; every benchmark I hit is one step closer to my ultimate objective.
  1. Find a spotter.We all need someone who can hold us to our behaviors. This is your accountability partner. Pick someone you trust to keep it real with you, preferably a friend or colleague. He or she will help you stay on track, something that is especially helpful when you’re trying to earn and accumulate wealth. When I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, I got in with a group that did this for one another. We talked frequently about climbing experiences, workouts, gear, and more. Thanks to a strong peer group, I got to the top. You can, too.
  1. Make honesty the only policy. Unless you’re going to be honest with yourself, you can’t remain accountable. Lying will only lead to self-deception, and the same holds true to anyone who agrees to hold you accountable. You deserve integrity, so make it your mantra. Of course, it takes chutzpah — not cheerleaders — to be honest. Focus on the truth, and let it guide you when you stray off course. Excuses are like tethers around your waist — they keep you from moving easily and reaching your objectives.

For most of us, wealth isn’t something that happens by chance; it’s the result of planning, building, and tracking every step of the way. Wanting riches won’t make piles of cash appear at your doorstep. Take ownership of your finances; then, watch your financial dreams take shape.

David Osborn is an entrepreneur, public speaker, and author . He is a principal franchisee of Keller Williams, the 19th largest real estate company in the U.S., which grossed more than $5.2 billion in sales in 2015. A firm believer in the principles of knowledge sharing and giving back, he regularly speaks and teaches on entrepreneurial accountability and contributes to causes such as cancer prevention and clean water well building with nonprofit organizations. A father of three, David lives with his wife, Traci, in Austin, Texas.