As is often the case, George Couros serves as the inspiration for today’s post. Not only is he the reason I finally started writing this blog, but he is also the inspiration for many of my posts. In addition to writing blog posts, George writes weekly emails, is the author/coauthor of four books, is a well-known speaker/consultant, and hosts the podcast, The Innovator’s Mindset. Housed within The Innovator’s Mindset is a series called Mindset Monday. It was Season 3, Episode 2, “Growth Through Accountability to Others” that put my fingers to the keyboard this week.
Initially, this blog was started so that I could record my thoughts surrounding educational issues, specifically around effective literacy instruction and the Science of Reading, as well as other topics that roll through this brain of mine. It still serves these purposes, as well as propelling my own person learning journey forward. I quickly developed accountability to myself as I recognized the results of recording my weekly reflections.
The accountability piece of this blog has grown to include accountability to others: the handful of people who regularly read my writing. These people have cemented my commitment to writing regularly. I have nowhere near the following that George Couros does, but it is because of readers like Kate, Deb, Clint, and Katie that writing this blog has stayed on course. At the inception of the blog in January of 2021, I committed to writing once a week. For the most part, I have upheld that commitment. Kate – I can’t thank you enough for your weekly questions, compliments, and encouragement!
Accountability to others might just be the magic potion needed to keep doing the work. As Couros says, “If someone is counting on me showing up, it makes me better.”
This accountability runs so deep that in October of 2021, I wrote a post titled, “I Got Nothin.'” I had nothing to write about that week, but as I started the post, it quickly evolved into something. My reflection indicated that my commitment had become a habit.
I continue to maintain
goals “wants” for improving my writing (I can’t really call them goals until I get specific about a plan to achieve them!). Not only do I wish my syntax would improve, but I also strive to get ahead of the game in my writing. I want to have a several posts written and ready to go at least a month ahead of time. For example, George Couros’s Mindset Monday podcast – S3E2 was released on Sep 5, 2022, but he had recorded it in July. My pattern continues to be sitting down on Sunday mornings – and lately it has become an all-day Sunday event in between household chores – writing and releasing the same post on the same day. I don’t mind the Sunday mornings, but I sure would like to be several weeks out.
Commitments lead to accountability which leads to habits, much in the same way that discipline leads to results which leads to motivation. In Couros’s Season 3, Episode 3 of Mindset Monday, he reflects on how frequently he is asked about what motivated him to lose so much weight. His weight loss journey is nothing short of amazing!
As Couros works out the answer to this question, he has deduced that it is discipline that comes first, not motivation. The motivation comes after the results from being disciplined to eat right and exercise regularly.
I completely connect with this idea! In my writing, it is the discipline (connected to commitment and accountability to others) that has led to results: I have grown as an educator, a writer, an instructional coach, a wife and mother… as a human being, because of this writing.
In my personal health, it is the discipline (after commitment to living a healthier lifestyle and accountability to myself and others) to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to run, walk, lift weights, or bike that has led to results: I simply feel better, mentally and physically, when I have exercised. It is the thought of how I will feel if I exercise versus how I will feel if I don’t that gets me up and out the door every morning. Many days, I think it is more about my mental health than my physical health!
There are plenty of days when I don’t want to write and don’t want to exercise. But I NEVER regret doing either. And I know this: the results I get (personal growth and feeling mentally & physically fit) are due to accountability to self and others, which is the motivation I need to maintain the commitment which requires discipline to keep at it.
In an attempt to bring clarity to my thinking, I’ve created the following graphic. It’s not necessarily visually appealing, but if I sit with this idea for awhile I may decide just how I want to tweak it. As with any formula, these ideas may not always be connected exactly as they are laid out; in fact, those arrows could be connecting any and all of the words on the graphic.