Make it Great with an Accountability Partner

You are clear about the primary aim of your life.

You have set your chief SMART goal.

You have a compelling list of 100 unique reasons why you should reach the set goal.

You have a list of 3 or more SMART sub-goals that you must achieve to hit the goal you have set.

Still there is a strong possibility that you will miss the goal. What could that be?

Lack of accountability.

We, the humans, have a wonderful capability to find out reasons why something cannot be done. Valid, acceptable and compelling reasons why something is not possible.

Those reasons are caused by what we know as “resistance”.

Resistance is one of the most powerful negative forces you experience in your entire lifetime.

Resistance is your biggest enemy. Resistance aims to kill. Resistance aims to kill the possibility to take actions.

Oh … damn resistance.

Sometimes the resistance wears the mask of reasons. Sometimes it wears the mask of logic. Sometimes it wears the mask of reality. What’s more, sometimes it wears the mask of yourself … and your other (vested!) interests.

And, you do not even know that you have to fight with your own self who is now representative of your enemy that stays within you … resistance!

Reflect on below thought from Pressfield’s masterpiece book called  Do The Work on resistance:

“Resistance is the Dragon; you are the Knight” ~ Steven Pressfield

And you know what, you slay the dragon once, and he will never have power over you again.

Public accountability is one such powerful tool that can help you to slay the dragon.

When you have a project to be delivered, a business to start or life change to make, your inner dragon will tell you all the reasons why you should not be doing that thing.

This issue is caused by the design of humans. This is how we are. Let us accept it so we can do something about it.

By making your goals public and creating situations where you are held accountable, you tell your inner dragon to shut its fire-spitting mouth.

For example, if you make a public announcement of your personal goal in your community, your public Facebook profile or on your personal blog, it is an example of applying public accountability in your life.

Now, there are private goals that you may not want to share publicly. What to do? How to get the benefits of public accountability without making your goals public?

By having one or more private accountability partners.

accountability partner

Here are some of the traits that you would look for in your private accountability partners:

a) Accessibility: They should be accessible to you on a regular basis. It is great if your accountability partner is within the same family, same office premises or the same city where you can easily access them.

b) Choice: They should accept themselves as their accountability partner. Someone might have assigned or insisted an accountability partner to you, but they should choose themselves as your accountability partner nonetheless.

c) Relevance: They should be able to relate to your goals in some manner. For example, if your goal is to lose 6 kg weight in 60 days and you pick a foodie accountability partner who thinks it is a wasteful thinking, it won’t help.

d) Respect: You should be able to respect your accountability partner and s/he should be able to respect you. You may have a difference of opinions but as if they don’t respect for who you are, it does not work.

It does not matter what job title or experience or gender your accountability partner have, it matters that your accountability partner will make you accountable such that you achieve your goal.

Your accountability partner could be your friend, colleague, boss, spouse or even a social media contact you made online. Whosoever s/he is, if s/he follows the following 100 rules for being an accountability partner, it will work:

100 Rules for Being an Effective Accountability Partner

Rule #1:

An accountability partner will make sure that her partner achieves the set goal.

Remaining 99 rules don’t matter!

FAQs About Accountability Partner

Q1: Why accountability partner?
A1: Because you are smart. You know how to lie to yourself. Your accountability partner won’t allow you to do that!

Q2: Can my spouse, or colleague can be my accountability partner?
A2: Yes, they can.

Q3: What one thing an accountability partner should do on a regular basis?
A3: One thing that accountability partner does on a regular basis is to connect her partner with the possible outcome of the goal once achieved. Having said that, there are no set rules or steps that work for everyone; still the accountability partner will make her partner realize that you are accountable to take actions such that you can reach the goal.

Q4: What ONE thing that accountability partner must not do?
A4: Accountability partner does not disempower her partner intentionally or unintentionally. Sure, during the process she might learn that a particular technique might not work – so she can communicate the same but in a constructive manner. In a way, that empowers her partner to achieve the goal, not to keep away with the goal based on the discovered knowledge that a particular technique might not work.

Q5: What is one understanding that accountability partner would practice from?
A5: An accountability partner would practice the relational accountability. She’d understand that accountability is the willingness to give an account to someone else of your actions and motives. It is a give and take relationship where the purpose is to empower each other to achieve the goal.

In conclusion:
Accountability Partners can help you reach your goals sooner than later and help you build a more strengthened version of yourself.

Leverage it now!

Depthless Impulse Vs. Slow Mastery

What is one of the most common behavioral patterns of young startup founders?

Depthless impulse married with an action bias.

Action bias is good. Action bias with impulse is accident prone. Action bias with depthless impulse is disastrous.

Action bias=good. Action bias+impulse=accident prone. Action bias+depthless impulse=disaster.… Click To Tweet

Here’s a story of a young such startup founder and his mentor:

A young startup founder went to his newfound mentor and said passionately, “I am committed to learning your thinking process. How long will it take me to master it?”

The mentor’s reply was casual, “3 years.” Impatiently, the young startup founder answered, “But I want to learn it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice every day, 12 or more hours a day. How long will it take then?”

“5 years,” replied the mentor.

“But, if I really, really work hard at it and give my best shot. Maybe 16 or 18 hours a day if I have to. How long then?” asked young startup founder.

The mentor paused for a moment and said, “Well, 10 years.”

“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed young startup founder. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

Replied the mentor,” When you have one eye on mastering my thinking process, you have only one eye on the path that leads to learning my thinking process.”

Same is the case with many young startup founders. They get so much excited about the end result their idea might produce, they fail to give their 100% into walking the path that leads to the end result they had once imagined.

Depthless impulse is easy, getting into the verticle depth of the matter is not. It is painful. It is boring. It takes more time than what you think it should take. But above all, it is a surefire way to achieving your best potential. And, the whole notion of the startups is to achieve one’s best potential, isn’t it?

Startups who do not want to invest in verticle depth cease to exist sooner than later.

Not because they don’t figure out the different ideas to pursue, but because they don’t pursue the ideas differently.

Don’t let you startup cease. Only action bias won’t save your startup. Practice slow mastery over depthless impulse and experience it yourself.

Do Less AND Do Better

Had a chat with a young startup founder yesterday. She was  in her early twenties. Young blood with full of energy.

Her startup is about creating a fitness related solution using mobile-first approach.

The idea looked good. She was talented and confident. She was determined to make it happen.

Here’s a glimpse of our conversation:

"If I get funding of around US$25,000 then I'll hire the best mobile app developer and have them develop 10 BEST features from the competitor's apps," she said.
"Why do you want to build those 10 features?" was my question.
She: "Because I think all these features are super cool and offer the users with a lot of 
options and if users get more options then they might use more of my app and if they use 
more of my app then I'll make more money from the app."
Me: "What if you identify one or two EXTREMELY important features and leave every other 
feature out for upcoming releases?"
She: "But...but I know that all the 10 features are very good and my app should have it."
Me: "Why? Are those 10 features absolutely *essential* to the core of your solution? Or 
just good to have features?"
She: "Well, only one is core, but all others are really cool features. For example, I can 
provide sign in option via Twitter on top of email sign in option that I'm going to have 
as a default option."
Me: "Do you know how many people who are interested in your fitness niche are on Twitter? 
Are they active users? Do they really care if you have Twitter login option? Do you have 
any data which is unique to your niche that tells you that you must absolutely have 'Login via Twitter' feature in your fitness app?"
She: "Ugh, I don't have any specific data but I feel that it is a really good feature. I along with lot of my friends use Twitter so frequently. I think other users would also be using Twitter like ours ..."
Me: "What if you launch without Twitter login option and see if your users demand it?"
She: "I think I can do that but oh yes, I got the idea: rather than focusing on including 
every great feature that I can think of, you're suggesting that I quickly go to the market with the vital few features that are just better than my competitors?"
Me: "Absolutely. Do less AND do better!"

Observe the capital “AND” in the above statement. It is the key. The purpose of doing less is to do it better than everyone else including your previous implementations. Better is non-negotiable.

If you can’t make it better, “less” has no value. In fact, it deteriorates the value of your solution. More and better is often fool’s paradise.

Less and better is possible.

Less and better is loved by the users.

Sometimes, Less and better is hated too by a few … but that’s okay!

More is full of clutter. Less is full of what matters more. #quote Click To Tweet

More is full of clutter. Less is full of what matters more. Apple does it. Basecamp does it. Trello does it. They do less and they do it better.

Sure, doing less is scary; doing better is difficult. Still, doing less + doing better is what it takes. Yes, it = your startup, boy!

The disease of copying superiors

Recently, Tom Peters shared this insightful article – The 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis – on his FB page and titled it as Wow & Wow & Wow!

It got Tom’s attention then who am I to ignore it?

It turned out to be a really insightful read and its author Gary Hamel has articulated it so aptly.

While all the pointers have a potential to be a wake-up call for many of us, point #10 struck the chord. Here it goes:

The disease of idolizing superiors:

This is the disease of those who court their superiors in the hope of gaining their favor. They are victims of careerism and opportunism; they honor persons [rather than the larger mission of the organization]. They think only of what they can get and not of what they should give; small-minded persons, unhappy and inspired only by their own lethal selfishness. Superiors themselves can be affected by this disease, when they try to obtain the submission, loyalty and psychological dependency of their subordinates, but the end result is unhealthy complicity.

I cannot agree more with this insight. Rather than learning from the superiors, many people in today’s workplace tend to blindly follow their superiors for different reasons.

However, I have observed that many middle managers at startups or smaller companies, often court their superiors because they want to become like them. While their objective is not always to gain the superior’s favor, they are absolutely impressed by their superiors than they should be and often commit a mistake of following their actions (and not their point of views) in similar situations.

These people are not small-minded, unhappy people who are inspired only by their own lethal selfishness. Instead, these people are mesmerized with the way their superior deals with different situations and think that they will also be able to lead similar situations if they will adapt to their superior’s style.

They get inspired by the heroic act of their superiors and tend to “copy” them.

They get psychologically dependent on their superiors and be loyal to the superior instead of being committed to the startup’s mission.

Often, such acts look innocent and give the superior a sense of personal fulfillment but it might bring negative consequences down the line.

Here is what is likely to happen when such a situation occurs

a) The superior starts feeling good about his subordinate’s act

b) The subordinate starts feeling good by keeping in the company of the superior

c) The subordinate starts simulating his superior’s actions in the majority of the tasks he undertakes – while hiring people; while delivering; while managing difficult situations with the clients; while doing their day-to-day work …

d) The superior starts noticing it and often tend to conclude that by following him, his people will also produce great results

e) This might result in missed focus on being as agile as possible, moving fast, failing small and failing fast, gathering as much data as possible and building an infrastructure upon which the startup or the small business organization can stand for the years to come

Four Ideas for Superiors to Deal With Subordinates Who Copy or Idolize Them

Such situations may plague the organization. Here are some of the ideas that might help the superior dealing with such situations:

  1. Be aware: Of your own act. Of your people’s act and identify matching patterns and see if those patterns indicate that your people are blindly following you, innocently or intentionally – and do something about it.
  2. Substance over smartness: Reward substance over smartness in each of the acts that your part of the business entertains. Even if the substance is not extremely good in style, reward it more over styled smartness which does not have equivalent substance.
  3. Communicate candidly: Talk to your subordinate and communicate what you have observed. Tell him that instead of being an inferior version of yourself, he should choose to become the BEST version of himself. Sure, he can choose to look at the situations from your point of view but he must understand and accept that merely copying your act won’t give him desired success.
  4. Lead thyself better: Now this has more to do with yourself rather than your subordinate. Empower your people such that they are inspired by the beauty of what they intend to create and not your heroic style. This is easier said than done but absolutely necessary if you want to create a mission-driven organization that gets things done!

In closing, copying superiors is indeed a disease and it must be dealt up front and as fast as possible. The key is to accept that it is a disease and then take corrective measures.

Question: Have you observed any such situation? What are your views about it?

To Hell With The Critics, Long Live Criticism

Do you remember the people who criticise you?

Or you care about just the criticism and take corrective measures if you think you can improve?

It’s a “Who Vs. What” question.

criticism

Now think about this: if you remember the people who criticise you, your natural inclination will be to win over their hearts and do the things to please them.

When you do something to “please” someone, your act gets biased. Your such act will make you stressful. Is such an act worth practicing? You know the answer.

But if you listen to just the criticism to understand the critic’s point of view, and if you are convinced, take corrective measures for improvement, the scenario changes.

When it comes to dealing with criticism, ‘What’ matters more than ‘Who.’

Don’t think of critics. Fix the act that caused criticism (or ignore it if you don’t care).

Think of people you love … your friends; your family; your kids; your spouse (if you still love her, or him) …

That’s much better use of the most scarce resource you have – your remaining time in this world.

Some people live their lives thinking that they have unlimited time in this world. That’s not true. Your time is limited. Here’re the 7 most common deathbed regrets. Not worth having for sure.

Do something that gives you happiness. Learn from the criticism but to hell with the critics. You better do it!

Zen Story: Will You Choose to Be My Coach?

A coach saw five of the interns practicing software engineering. When they took a break, the coach asked the interns, “Why do you write code?”

The first intern replied, “Coding is an in-demand, high paying career. I’m glad that I will not have to do the clerical work that some of my school friends are doing in their jobs.”

The coach praised the intern, saying, “You’re a smart engineer. When you will gain more experience, you won’t have to worry about coaching like I do.”

The second intern replied, “I love the constructs, structures and even more important, the business impact that my code would create.”

The coach praised him, “Your senses are active and you see more than many others. Good for your career.”

The third intern replied, “When I write the code, I feel so content that I am creating something useful for the people who would use the app.”

The coach gave praise to the third intern, “Your mind will easily grasp the programming techniques of today and future and make you a competent programmer.”

The fourth intern answered, “As I write the code, I create a systematic something that will make people’s lives better.”

The coach was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path which will offer you win-win and favorable situations in your life.”

The fifth intern replied, “I write code to write code.”

The coach went and sat at the feet of the fifth intern and said,  “I am your student. Will you choose to be my coach?”

Do Things That Might Not Work

Huh? Are you insane?

Certainly everyone wants this … assurance.

do-things-that-might-not-work

  • When a wedding event is planned then the head of the family wants the assurance that the event will go well.
  • When a new project is about to begin, the sponsor wants the assurance that it will be successful.
  • When a new product line is launched, the Executives, VPs and Sr. Managers need assurance that it will work.
  • When a startup is hiring a freelancer, they want certainty that the work freelancer would carry out will be extremely useful  to them (and since the freelancer is supposed to be needing the work, she should offer the money-back guarantee too!).

Assurance.

Everyone wants assurance.

The problem with assurance is that we get to know about it when the exact same experience has happened.

Whatever has happened once can be predicted. Whatever has happened once can be estimated. Whatever has happened once can contribute in giving assurance.

Creation is different kind of path. It is based on the ambit of “not sure.”

If the creator is asked, “Can you show me a case study about how you’d go from A to B,” he might not have a definite answer.

The world gets better by the stuff that comes from doing the things that might not work.

Are you doing anything that might not work?