Monthly Archives: Apr 2015

Productivity

The helping hand of an accountability partner

Not all habits will stick. Not all resolutions are successful. If you want to start doing something regularly, or if you have tried different methods of building a habit and are still failing, this is a blog post for you!

Let’s begin with a story. Sometime ago, I decided to start strength training . I’ve tried to do this many times in the past, and I’ve failed almost as many times as I’ve tried. This time, I wanted to do quick workouts based on the concept of the . The key idea behind this is to exercise at a high intensity for a short period of time (7 minutes), and to do it regularly. I wanted to do it every day. I tried a few times to build this habit, but I was never able to do so. I knew that it would be good for my body but I didn’t like it all that much… Once I started talking about this with my friend. He also aimed to do strength training every day, and he was doing it successfully. I envied him a lot. I thought that if I told him that I would exercise every day, I would have an external incentive to do so. So I asked him if I could send him a text message every day after my workouts. I knew that if I didn’t send that message, he would ask me about it the next day. I really didn’t want to have to tell him that I skipped a workout. This resulted in a 69 day long streak! I have never exercised so many days in a row!

That’s the end of the story. What did I learn from this? And what lesson can you take away from it?

  • ­­It is very hard to form a habit of doing something that you don’t like to do. I don’t like to do strength training. I know that it’s good for my body. Still, I just don’t like it. I can run for 2-3 hours and I love it. Doing strength training every day is a very different story. Some time ago I described some methods for building habits (for example, Seinfield’s method.) I tried this method with this habit, but it didn’t work. My dislike of strength training was much stronger than the pleasure of building a long chain.
  • Telling someone that you’ve committed to doing something will give you an additional push to do it. When I had doubts or when I heard a little voice in my head telling me it was ok to skip a day, I knew that someone would ask me if I’d failed in my commitment. That made me exercise even when I didn’t want to.
  • The person you choose to tell about your commitment has to be a person you respect a lot. This can’t be just any person. It has to be very hard for you to tell them that you failed to fulfill your commitment!
  • It is important to have a way to “report” that you did what you promised to do. I used to send a text message after each workout. If my partner didn’t receive a text message from me at the usual time, he would text me and ask why I hadn’t exercised yet.

This concept is called accountability partnership. An accountability partner is a person that helps you fulfill your commitments because he/she cares.  You don’t want to have to tell that person that you didn’t do what you promised. You respect that person and you care what they think about you.

The concept of an accountability partner is also used in many support groups. It may be called by a different name, but the idea is usually the same – to have someone who is the last resort when your willpower is low. An accountability partner is a kind of an extension of your willpower.

Use this concept wisely and only for the real challenges, those that you can’t solve using other methods. And when you are asked to be an accountability partner, treat that as an enormous sign of trust and respect. Remember, it’s an honor!

Have you ever had an accountability partner? Have you ever been one?

Photo by  Leo GrüblerCC BY

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Strengths

Near-perfect performance

What would you say if someone told you to stop focusing on your weaknesses and instead work on your strengths? What would you say if someone showed you what your potential is and helped you to find out how to invest in it? I heard about that concept a couple of years ago and I have to admit it was a shock for me. I was used to working on the areas that I needed to improve or fix. Then one day I was told that it is far better to focus on what I do well and build on that.

“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”

You have talents which are a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving. You can invest in your talents by practicing and developing your skills, and building your knowledge base. This is how you build a Strength. What is a Strength? According to Gallup, it is “the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.” How can you achieve near-perfect performance? Invest in your talents by adding knowledge and skills to amplify them. Why should you do this? For better performance, and to achieve better results. You can benefit from investing in your talents both in your personal and professional life.

Strength-based development is the result of more than 50 years of Dr. Clifton’s work and research. He and his team, based on years of studies, identified 34 Strengths. Each theme comprises many talents. Below, I listed a few sample descriptions of Strengths (these are my top three Strengths):

  • Individualization: People strong in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
  • Arranger: People strong in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources of a project can be arranged for maximum productivity.
  • Learner: People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

You can find the full list under this link.

Gallup has prepared an assessment which consists of 177 sets of paired statements. After taking it, you will get a list of your top five or a full list of 34 strengths (there is a difference in price between these assessments).

My ambition is to write more about Strengths here. I will describe them and explain how they can play together. Some time ago, I decided to participate in a week-long training where I learned how to work with Gallup Strengths. Along with more than 20 other people from all over the world, I listened to experienced Gallup coaches and practiced  helping others discover their strengths. We learned how to show other people which strengths they have and how those strengths can help them in everyday life. There are tons of things I want to share with you about what I’ve learned. I’ll do that in the coming blog posts. I want to leave you with one thought, though: There aren’t better or worse combinations of strengths. Don’t focus on your lesser strengths. The most important thing to do is to invest in your top strengths. This is where your potential is, and this is where you will have the most opportunities for success!

If you are interested in more details, please contact me. I’m passionate about this! I can help you discover your strengths and figure out how to work with them in order to grow. You can also expect many more posts about Gallup Strengths right here on this blog. So stay tuned!

Photo by  Bogdan SudituCC BY

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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain