This morning my alarm sounded at 4.40am, and my heart sank.
The sky was grey and still, the house was silent, the blankets soft. Everything in me wanted to snuggle in and stay. I am not one of those bound-out-of-bed bubbly morning people!
There’s only one thing strong enough to motivate me out of bed at that ridiculous hour. Can you guess what it is?
Shame. Or, more accurately, fear of shame.
I had a 5am Skype appointment with my Polish language teacher and, if I missed it, she may have thought me disorganised and inefficient. Things I REALLY don’t like being!
I wish I could say I was motivated by a more noble quest: my lifelong desire to learn a European language, perhaps. Or, my long-held dream to one day work and serve in Central-Eastern Europe.
Nope. In the clear light of day those goals are deeply important to me, but at 4.40am it was the desire to protect someone’s opinion of me that got me out of bed. Future aspirations, no matter how grand, tend to become less important to us in the face of immediate discomfort. Our brains are wired to seek instant gratification.
There’s an ancient Hebrew story about a guy called Esau who sold his birthright (his entire inheritance and future livelihood) for a meal to satisfy his immediate hunger. And humankind have pretty much been repeating that same pattern ever since.
Which, my friends, is why we need each other!
An effective and fulfilled life of purpose comes at a cost, and it is not always comfortable. For that reason, most of us will not consistently do what needs to be done unless we are accountable to someone.
Accountability almost seems too simple to be effective but, as a coach, I see time and again that it is often the only difference between someone pursuing their dreams or not. When you know someone is waiting on the other side of your follow-through, you are more likely to follow through.
This is particularly true for those creative projects that are intrinsically linked to our sense of purpose and fulfilment. These projects are often non-urgent and require uncomfortable personal and professional growth, and therefore are continually pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. I know you know what I mean!
If you are serious about creating a deeply fulfilling and highly effective life, it is imperative to find a coach or mentor to hold you accountable. Friends don’t count. Accountability only works with someone you: 1) respect enough to want to protect their good opinion of you (the shame factor!) and 2) will tell you the hard truths when you need to hear them, whether you like them for it or not. This person could be the secret to your success.
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