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!

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?”

Learning Techniques Vs. Learning Ownership

Jack puts in a lot of time to learn the techniques.

He’s a technique-biased learner. If you access his Dropbox folder called “To Learn,” you will see notes like this:

  • Top 7 ways to Write an Internal Office Memo That’s Not Boring
  • Top 10 SureFire Techniques to Lose Weight and Gain Muscles
  • What Everyone is Missing When Raising Their First Girl Child (and how not to)
  • Top 50 Tips to Make Money From Pharma Stocks From Day-Trading

Lots of how-tos …

The problem with this approach is that they are good to read but don’t always work as-is.

They need to be contextually modified to suit the specific needs.

Focusing merely on techniques is a great waste because it is not difficult to be good at a subject if we really choose to be.

We can be good at ANY subject if we choose to deal with an uncertain next and failures and frustration and the mess.

The problem is, we don’t want to take ownership to be good at something unless we find out that it is possible to for us to be good at that thing.

We expect others to coach us to be good at something while we do other stuff like updating facebook status, playing mobile games, attending a friend’s sister’s husband’s uncle’s daughter’s neighbour’s birthday party … or doing something else.

We want to be good at something while doing other stuff. Doing other stuff means our attention is divided and we are not 100% committed to be good at something.

What if we create a culture where the focus is on buying and selling ownership.
What if we create a culture where the focus is on buying and selling #ownership. Click To TweetWhen we buy ownership, we hold ourselves accountable to produce the results.

When we sell ownership, we have delegated a specific project or a task to a dependable person and that person has owned it.

Such a trade of ownership actually makes people choosing themselves.

A learner who chooses herself is unstoppable.

A learner who chooses herself is unstoppable. #habits Click To Tweet

Sure, it takes some time to get used to the uncomfortable situations that the trade of ownership puts you in but once got, it works as an extremely powerful tool.

Successful cultures practice trading of ownership. Successful individuals too.

Successful cultures practice trading of ownership. Successful individuals too. #success #habits Click To Tweet

What do you want to do?

A Lion in Search of a Circus

When Simba, the Lion, didn’t know that a circus was a possible home for him, his life was different.

He had so much freedom, many opportunities, and so much choice.

He was wired to lead. He was wired to roar. He was wired to kill.

Kill like a Lion.

A-Lion-in-Search-of-a-Circus

Then came circus. And the ringmaster.

Initially, Simba didn’t like the circus but eventually he compromised and surrendered himself.

If he would do exactly as the ringmaster asked him to do, he would get a piece of meat.

If he would refuse to do as the ringmaster asked him to do, he will have to sleep hungry.

If he’d do what the ringmaster wanted even without asking, he would get one more piece of meat.

Following the ringmaster’s orders was a better deal.

So he rewired himself to listen to and follow the ringmaster’s orders.

He was now an integral part of the circus.

His life became easy. Follow the orders and get the food. On some days, he would be allowed to have sex with the lioness who used to stay in a nearby cage.

Simba thought to himself, “Life at circus is not bad at all. I get the food without having to kill anyone and I get to spend some good time with the lioness I developed a crush on.”

As the years passed, Simba thought that the ringmaster was his “true” master and if he would please him, his life would continue to be easy.

Everything worked well for several years, but one day, for some reason, the circus owner decided to close the circus down.

The circus owner was happy with Simba. He thought at this point, rather than selling him to another circus, he would send him back to his real home, into the wild.

And he did it.

That day was difficult for Simba. There was no ringmaster. No shows. No noise of people applauding Simba’s performance. There was no food at his fingertips.

Simba was hungry and he had to arrange for his food on his own.

But he didn’t feel like home. The wild was perhaps too wild for him. He didn’t want to stay there anymore. He needed to be with a circus. Any circus.

He sat under a tree thinking, “It would be great if I find another circus. I want someone to come and take me to the circus again …”

He was the Lion. The King. Yet he needed a place to hold him, a spot where he didn’t have to assume the responsibility.

If he would work with a circus, he’d get food, sex and sense of safety.

Simba was no longer a Lion. His habits were changed. Sure, he looked like a Lion but didn’t remain one. He could roar, but he could not choose.

Why wasn’t he a Lion anymore? Did he forget hunting?

No.

But after living a passive life with the circus and after following orders from the ringmaster, he forgot to choose himself.

Simba hadn’t read James Altucher‘s book – Choose Yourself . Especially the page #4 which goes as below:

“That’s when it clicked. When everything changed. When I realized that nobody else was going to do it for me. If I was going to thrive, to survive, I had to choose myself. In every way.”

~James Altucher, Choose Yourself, pg #4

If you don't choose yourself, you don't remain Lion even though you were born as a Lion. Click To Tweet

If you are a Lion, then you hunt. You don’t ridicule yourself by following orders of the ringmasters.

If you are a programmer, then you program. You don’t fool yourself by copy/pasting code from stakeoverflow.com and call yourself a Programmer.

You are not what's available to you. You're not what happens to you. You are what you choose to… Click To Tweet

Hunt every day. Program every day. Keep your reflexes sharpened. Read Choose Yourself from James Altucher today and be a real Lion who leads the wild, not just Simba. 

Or go in search of a circus.

How to Be Wiser In 3 Minutes or Less With Audvisor

Do you want to be wiser than who you are?

Silly question.

We all want to. We all want to learn. We all want to better our lives. But the problem is, we have a lot more commitments and a lot less time.

We follow thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ and our data feeds are filled with so much information that often we fill guilty of not consuming the wealth of wisdom available to us.

What to do?

Enter Audvisor: It’s a mobile app that brings bite sized insights from world’s top experts for us to listen to and get wiser. Anytime. Anywhere. While driving. While walking. While taking lunch or while getting haircut!

be wiser with audvisor

The remarkable thing? The constraint of 3 minutes. We get all these insights from hundreds of handpicked experts – all under 3 minutes.

Audvisor’s app has found its place on my iPhone’s home screen for almost a week now. I’ve been using it almost every day.

I listen to Audvisor’s insight early morning and “think” about the topic during the day whenever I get few free minutes.

Here’s my first-day experience with Audvisor

I spent my first 1.47 seconds on Audvisor listening to Tom Peter‘s advice on The Real Problem.: Here are my notes from it:

Gem 1:

The problem is never the problem. The response to the problem is almost always the problem.

Gem 2:

Perception is all there is, there is no reality. There is only perception. So, the way you deal with the problem, is so much more important than the problem itself.

Simple thought. Profound concept. Just 1.47 minutes of my time. Positive ROI.

Another audvise I listened to was Pamela Slim‘s Communicating with Clarity. She touches upon how we miss practicing general protocols of clear communication in our everyday communication. My notes:

Gem 1: 

What’s the BEST way for the person whom I’m writing to, to respond me back without the need of processing ?

Gem 2:

Stay away from Jargons and Buzzwords. Tell heart touching stories. Don’t be complex. Use words that a 7th standard student can understand.

And there are 100 more experts to learn from. Seth Godin. Guy Kawasaki. Ishita Gupta. Kevin Eikenberry. Dr. Liz Alexander. All renowned experts.

About Audvisor’s UX

Now about the App’s user experience: The app is easy to use, has no learning curve and lives up to the promises made on their marketing website.

App’s interface is clean and offers Tinder like cards view but with a sensible twist. The gestures feel intuitive.

It is certainly developed with a lot of care, attention to detail and love, which Rajesh Setty, co-founder of Audvisor, is known for – Bringing Ideas To Life, With love!

In terms of user experience, Audvisor app is off to a very good start.

What I Would Like to See In Future Updates of Audvisor

I liked the idea so much that I could not stop myself thinking about it for an hour. I could visualize that eventually Audvisor will become even better when it will get some of the features that I would like to see:

#1 Save audio locally: Ability to save the audio so that I can listen to it again when I’m traveling and do not have consistent access to 3G, LTE or WiFi networks.

#2 More learning on the subject: A feature that offers manually curated useful links to related articles, videos, papers or books on the subject. 3 minutes are sufficient to trigger an action, but more info on the subject, if available to me via an optional gesture or a button, would be of great help in leveraging what I have learned.

#3 Save to Pocket  Ability to save the audvise to Pocket or other read it later service. It also opens a possibility to offer the same audvise via web interface to save it on read it later, the audvise needs a permanent place on the web.

#4 Ability to edit Tweet text: When I choose to share an audvise with twitter, I would love to be presented with an auto-populated tweet, which I can customize if I want to. Current implementation posts the tweet automatically for me which is good, but I wanted more control over the tweet text.

#5 Search:  Ability to Search by topics, experts, and keywords – this would be a great feature especially when there are a lot of topics and experts.

#6  Assign an action on a particular Audvise: Ability to assign a set of actions to a particular Audvise. If I want to extend my learning on a particular insight, I would want to create a to-do and set a reminder. An alternate could be an ability to send Audvisor link to tools such as Trello for further actions.

#7 Vidvisor: Maybe an enhancement (or a companion app)  where I can see the Videos of the experts as well if I want to.

#8 Trending audvises: Twitter-like trends for audvises.

#9 Likes: Ability to give thumbs up or down on an audvise. Litmus test for experts. Will make the platform more trusted.

#10 Stories: Audio (and video) stories of people who have listened to the audvise and how they have put it in action – and the results that they have seen because of it.

I also see that Audvisor has a potential to become a gateway between teachers and students for bite-sized learning. Imagine a teacher creating 3 minutes or less audio/video lesson on learning maths, Spanish or history on any other subject.

Mini-sagas, ThinkTweet, and  Audvisor – bite-sized insights cannot get better than this.

Audvisor adds value to the learners. I vouch for it.

Audvisor seems to add value to the experts – as they get more exposure and acts as a gateway creating more value through their services, products, and advice.

Everyone who uses Audvisor, wins. Experts. Learners. Creators of Audvisor.

If you’re using iPhone, check out this push button app for learning today. If you’re using Android, follow this link.

I’m sure you’d want to thank me for this heads up. Feel free to invite me for a coffee. I like espresso shots. I take no sugar and no milk. Just coffee.

I like coffee in its pure form and perhaps that’s why I liked Audvisor. You also might :).

 

Learn from Mistakes

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” ~ Richard Branson

Do you remember a mistake you made in last 30 days?

Yes?

Do you remember what you learned out of it?

Yes?

Then stop reading this post. Go, make more mistakes.

A mistake is the best thing that can happen to you when you learn from it.

It can tell you why something didn’t work. It can tell you what changes you need to make to get better. It can make you wiser.

Mistakes. Can. Make. You. Wiser.

Here’s a true story. Story of Vicky. Vicky met me at a local meetup a two years back.

He had a couple of Internet business ideas he wanted to start. He was very passionate and thought his ideas were going to be a money minting machine for him.

He wanted to pursue both the ideas simultaneously. Here’s how our conversation went:

Vicky: What do you think of it?
Me: Pick any one.
Vicky: Which one should I pick?
Me: The one that you can do everything possible to make successful.
Vicky: How do I know if one idea is better than the other?
Me: I don't know. Make a decision. Experiment something around the idea. Gather some data 
and take it from there.
Vicky: What if I fail?
Me: You will.
Vicky: I don't like to fail. What can I do?
Me: Give up.
Vicky: I don't want to give up. What is the next best way?
Me: Fail small; fail fast. Have shorter failure sprints. When you fail fast, you succeed 
fast too. Well, maybe.

“OK. Got it,” he said. But he didn’t get it.

Vicky: Will you be on board of my new startup?
Me: No.
Vicky: You pick the equity percentage. I will be fine with it if you're joining my startp. How can we work it out?
Me: No, thanks. I am dating another startup with 100% of my attention. Maybe next time. Fornow, you read Steve Blank's The Startup Owner's manual. It will help.

A year passed.

Vicky made the first release of his product. It was average. It had a lot of features which were not required. People did not show much interest in his product.

He was demotivated. He told me that he committed a huge mistake and wasted almost one year of his life working on something that is not going to be useful.

He also narrated how the freelancer he hired wanted more money from him to include more features.

Vicky believed he was smart. He figured out why failure of his product was someone else’s fault. He found that the developer he hired was not good at design. Maybe his product was ahead of time. He made logical conclusions.

And he met me at another meetup:

Vicky: My product didn't work. I'm a failure now. You might not want to talk to me.

Me: Keep talking
Vicky: My product failed even though I put best of my efforts.

Me: Is it?
Vicky: Actually, it was the developer. She took more time than she should have taken.

Me: Did you not replace her?
Vicky: I could not. She was the only developer ready to work for the money I offered.

Me: Why she took more time?
Vicky: She worked part time. This is the problem with technical people. They don't give 
their 100% all the time.

Me: Why should someone give 100% of her time when you're paying 25% of what she should get paid?
Vicky: I don't know what to say ...

Me: Do you know anyone who has bought a premium service for peantus?
Vicky: But people also did not want to use my product. They were not intersted in using 
new technology.

Me: Why not?
Vicky: Maybe they are not computer savvy.

Me: Why they are not computer savvy?
Vicky: Maybe it doesn't matter to their business at this point.

Me: That's exactly the point. Did you get out of your building and meet 50 people who were your potential product users and interviewed them?
Vicky: No.

Me: Do you remember that I told you to read Stevel Blank's The Startup Owner's Manual?
Vicky: Yes, but I thought I will read it once my product is built.

Me: I see.
Vicky: What should I do next?

Me: Learn from your mistakes and retry.
Vicky: Do you think that I commit a mistake? It's them. Not me.

Me: LOL :D
Vicky: Why are you laughing?

Me: Whose product failed?
Vicky: Mine.

Me: Then who should be resposible for it?
Vicky: Who? Oh.. me :( But what mistakes did I make according to you?

Me: You did not test your hypothesis. You did not go to market and speak with your 
potential customers. You tried to develop lot of features at once. You took lot of time. 
You hired cheap talent and expected they will do great work. And most important, you still blame others for your product not being successful.
Vicky: So what do you suggest?

Me: I don't suggest anything. You find out. You are wiser now, aren't you?
Vicky: Got it. There is no point in justifying how other people negatively affected the 
end result. I could have executed it better. I made a mistake.

Me: So execute your next project better. Good thing was that you made some decisions. 
It's a different matter that your decisions didn't work and turned out as a mistake. Now 
you know certain things need to change so you will do that.

Making a decision is much better than indecision.

The problem with indecision is that it is also a decision, albeit a passive one. A decision that you take by assuming that you haven’t taken any decision and wouldn’t have to deal with its consequences.

It’s not true.

Every decision has consequences and indecision is also a decision.

Mistakes are the results of decisions that didn’t work. Accept them. Learn from mistakes and retry once more.

You made a mistake, but it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You’re alive. You’ve become wiser. So, retry. And then, retry once more.