Late Nights and Limping: About How Accountability Partners Push You Farther Than You Thought You Could Go

I’ve got accountability on the brain. Here’s the story.

I’ve worked some long days and late nights this week. On Tuesday, I “clocked in” around 7:30am, and worked pretty much straight until 11 o’clock at night. It was good, I was productive and got a lot done. There are two reasons why this is interesting:

  1. I usually don’t have the stamina to stay focused for that long. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no slouch, but working for fifteen straight hours is just a tad over the top.
  2. On the rare occasion when I do push myself to work such crazy hours, it’s usually because there’s a looming deadline that I have to meet. In this case, there wasn’t any.

And despite all that, I was uber-productive. Are you wondering why?

Here’s the short version: I blame my girlfriend.

And Now For The Long Version…

The long version is that she’s been really busy at work this past week. They’re delivering a big project, so she’s been working super-late to meet the deadline.

In the interest of spending some time together, we thought it might be nice to do some work together (after all, as an entrepreneur, I have the dubious privilege of being able to work at any time of day or night if I so choose). So she came over around 5pm, got setup with her laptop and the extra monitor that my assistant usually uses, and dove in.

Not wanting to appear less diligent than her, I did the same.

Now again, it had already been a long day. I was tired, and there was no urgent deliverable that I was working on. Under normal circumstances, I might have pushed myself for another hour or two at the very most, before deciding to call it quits.

But somehow, having someone that you care about impressing sitting just a few feet away can do wonders to keep you focused.

This isn’t the first time that this happens. Actually, I think I got off easy, because the last time I ended up limping.

The Marathon

The last time I had reason to credit her for my sticking to a goal that I otherwise would have abandoned was on September 5th, when we ran the Montreal Marathon. This was the first time I ever ran a marathon, and in case you haven’t yet had that particular excruciating experience, I’ll give you a quick run-down of what it’s like:

  • You get started, and the weather is nice, and everyone is excited, and your body says, “Okay, sure, let’s do this.”
  • At about the 10k mark, you’re still going strong, and your body says, “Okay, so this is a long one – no problem, I’m game.”
  • At about the 20k mark, there’s no sign of stopping, and your body is saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. I didn’t sign up for this!”
  • At about the 30k mark, you’re still going, and your body says, “I don’t think so – enough is enough!”
  • And at about the 40k mark, for the last couple of kilometers, your body says, “Fine. Be that way. I’m not fighting you anymore.”

My legs seized up around the 30k mark, and I fast-walked/limped most of the rest of the way. My time was almost six hours, which is terrible; a decent time would be four hours, and the best people do it in close to two. For the record, she finished before me, and I’m very proud of her!

The interesting part is that there were extended stretches during those last ten kilometers when I had real doubts about whether I would be able to walk again. And despite that, it never even occurred to me that quitting could be an option. Not because I’m such a go-getter, but just because she was right there running with me, and there was no way that I could give up if she would know about it.

The Point Is That Accountability Keeps You On Task!

Of course, this isn’t the only time that I benefit from having an accountability partner.

If I had tried to build Firepole Marketing myself, I never would have gotten around to doing even half of the work that I squeezed in during this past year, because I wouldn’t have had to worry about disappointing Peter. Both Peter and I are accountable to our readers and students – otherwise, neither of us would have gotten as much done.

We’re accountable to our colleagues, and family, and clients, and friends. These are all people whose esteem matters to us, so we tell them about our plans, and then we know that we will be held accountable. Not that they would probably even say anything, in most cases, but we care about not letting them down, so we stay focused.

That’s why we advocate accountability partners for our Firepole Marketing students – because we think it will help them get more done, too.

What about you, what do you think? Does an accountability partner help you get things done? Or do you prefer to keep your goals to yourself until you reach them? Do you share your goals with everyone, just some people, or nobody at all?

 

Danny Iny (@DannyIny, +DannyIny), a.k.a. the "Freddy Krueger of Blogging", is the proud founder of Firepole Marketing. He is the author of the Amazon best-seller Engagement from Scratch! (available on Amazon, or for free in our Engagement Toolbox), and creator of the Audience Business Masterclass.

Comments

  1. Natan Joseph says

    Great story, Danny, and a great lesson for those of us who remain stuck in contemplation. My next goal is to find a girl who can run a 40k marathon…

  2. says

    Hey Danny,

    Being a runner myself this story was very funny because I have felt the same on 21k races! lol

    I’m looking forward to run the NY marathon (my first one) on 2012 so I have more than enough to train for that.

    Thanks for sharing this quick story man and you’re right on the spot about keeping accountability on our goals.

    Sometimes the right mindset is all we have (and all that’s needed).

    Sergio

    PS. The longest I have been able to make my girl run with me, is 10k races. Still looking forward to convince her to do her first half marathon, gonna try to put that on her bucket list somehow lol

    • says

      Wow, the NY marathon is supposed to be intense – very cool, Sergio!

      I’m glad you found the post valuable – the experience was pretty amazing for me (and incidentally, I proposed just over a month later). :)

      P.S. 10k is still pretty good – I think she’s a keeper! :)

  3. says

    This is a really beautiful story, Danny. I’m glad I browsed your archives (actually it was the “do you know me” email) and read it.

    What I’d really like to praise it for isn’t the accountability tho — it’s the harmony.

    It seems clear to me that you and Bhoomi help each other in deeply beautiful & connected ways, and I think it’s fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing your personal side, and I’ll definite link someone to this if I wanted them to get a personal impression about you :)

    • says

      Hey Jason, thank you for the kind words. It was a really intense experience, and it meant a lot to me that Bhoomi and I did it together (and we got engaged just over a month later).

      I’m looking forward to seeing you here in Montreal, so you can meet her! :)

      • says

        Yes! Intense sounds like a good description :) Doing things together is an awesome aspect of a fulfilling relationship :D (for most ppl anyway :P)

        That meeting feels assured, it just feels ‘right’. I’d love to meet her. They say ‘like attracts like’, so she’s gotta be awesome ;)

  4. says

    What strikes me about these stories is that the best accountability partners are invested in the same goal as you. Whether it’s finishing the marathon, starting a consultancy, or a project for a client. They want you to get it done because there’s something in it for them. They care about the outcome as much as (or more than) you do.

    And as all the other comments said – great stories!

  5. says

    Well, I can safely say I’m enjoying getting to know the man behind the emails! :D

    I don’t think it’s too much info at all and only wish more bloggers become this humane + accessible.

    And by the way? TOTALLY crazy that you made it through the marathon. I’d have collapsed after the first few K and wheezed, “That’s it, enough, thank you, it’s a wrap!” But then I guess having an accountability partners really does see you through those phases where you’re close to giving up. Hmm, good to know.

    Thank you for sharing! :)

    • says

      I’m so glad to hear that, Otiti!

      Yeah, the marathon was intense, but it really is different when you’re running with a partner that you want to impress – stopping is just no longer an option. :)

  6. says

    I wish I had someone who would help me stay accountable but my guy is so kind he accepts whatever I do at whatever pace. And that’s nice. I do wish I had a really in sync writing partner, though, for those sharing, caring, accountability moments. Of course I’m not too much of a slacker because here I am working at 8:10 on Sunday night of a long weekend!

  7. says

    I am guilty of not sharing my goals to anyone. I thought of it, as a private thing, but I start to see the benefits to it. I am debating on starting an accountability partnership with my friend. Having someone thinking about your goals is really important thing.

    Vukasin, since I am sending you this article, we gotta get on this thing together and Crush it!

  8. Larry pelley says

    Hi Danny
    I enjoyed your post…in particular: “accountability”.
    Accountability partners…sounds like a great idea….
    I would like to know more about how that works!!!
    Regards
    Larry

    we advocate accountability partners for our Firepole Marketing students

  9. Steve Robillard says

    I ran the Montreal Marathon as a 16 year old in 1983. I can totally relate to walking/limping most of the second half of the race. I told my family that if they saw the straggler buss before me I had quit. The bus passed me and another woman at around the 16 mile mark. We had been together for the last couple of miles and I don’t think either of us would have finished if not for the fear of letting down/abandoning the other. Together we managed to make it to the finish line in around six hours. Given the fact that the last ten miles are completed within approximately 3 miles of the finish line (if you don’t follow the prescribed route) it might have been easier to give up had I been alone. The funniest thing is I don’t even remember her name, but I will never forget the journey we shared and the lessons learned that day.

    BTW you forgot to mention the temperature and its effect on your body when you are not running, and wearing shorts in Montreal in September. The race was held a few weeks later in 1983.

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