We recently asked a group of partners to think about what we call the "mirror questions." We all know that it's easy to kid ourselves about how well we're doing. But when we have to look ourselves in the mirror, well, it's another story.

Rather than giving the partners the questions they should answer, we suggested that they come up with their own self-assessment. Specifically, we wanted them to devise questions they could ask themselves each week to evaluate how well they had performed.

Here's what one of the high-performers wrote about the task: "The exercise forced me to redefine how I view a successful week. ... I have always viewed success based upon what closed or is likely to close, but this exercise made me think more in terms of movement and progress."

We are not sure what he or the others will do with their lists of questions. They might forget about them - that's what happens to a lot of things that fill time in sales workshops. Maybe they'll pull them out after a long week and see how well they performed using their own criteria - and get something valuable out of the process.

Or perhaps they'll do something really bold. What if each partner had a trusted colleague, spouse or friend ask them the questions, holding them accountable each week for their critical behaviors? There would be only one rule: Colleagues and friends could only ask the questions. There could be no disapproving glances, no tongue-lashings, and no critical comments.

Management guru Marshall Goldsmith has 10 or 12 questions that he uses to evaluate his performance each day. Each night he talks on the phone with a friend about his professional pursuits, but also about whether he's done his sit-ups, eaten sensibly, done something nice for his wife and children, etc. It works for him.

Do you want to come up with your own questions? If you do, stop reading here. If you need some inspiration, here are the questions that the partner quoted above asked:

* Did I define my specific objectives for the week?

* Did I add names to my prospect list? Where did those names come from?

* Do I have the right mix of businesses on my prospect list?

* Did I plan appropriately for each sales call?

* Did I develop a follow-up plan for each sales call? Did I execute it?

* Did each of my pending deals move forward?

* Have I reached out to an existing client? To a center of influence? To an internal partner?

* Did I prioritize my time/resources appropriately? How can I improve in managing my time?

* Did anything unexpected happen?

* Did I learn something about my sales skills?

* Most important: Do I know why all of the above are important to my success?

These are all good questions. But our bet is that you could come up with a list that might be more appropriate for you. If you do, e-mail them to us.

August Aquila is an author, keynote speaker and consultant to the accounting profession. Reach him at aaquila@aquilaadvisors.com. Ned Miller is a consultant to the banking industry. Reach Ned at nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com.

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