Just about a year ago, my daughter Aliana relocated from Washington DC to Los Angeles. I had recently sold my business and had newly minted free time on my hands. Plus, I had a great keynote speaker gig scheduled in Anaheim, California, at just about the same time Ali needed to report to her new job. That meant I had the great good fortune to be able to fly to Washington DC, rent a great big SUV, and drive across the country with my 25-year old daughter and all of her possessions.
Think of what a great lucky adventure that was. First of all, it was the first time I’d ever crossed the continental US by car, and not in a pressurized aluminum cigar tube up 36,000 feet high in the sky.
Second, I got to spend a full week of face-to-face (or at least shoulder-to-shoulder) time with my adult daughter. How many dads my age get to do that? I was sure that at some point on our journey Ali would get sick of listening to me or I’d be driving through Arkansas or Oklahoma or somewhere and wonder “what the hell am I doing?” But neither happened. We had a great time chatting, listening to each other’s favorite music and podcasts, and visiting out of the way places we had never heard of before. I was even able to shoot a bunch of Marketing Minutes on the road with a college-educated camera person. You can watch a few of them HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Accounting for Pushups
Somewhere west of Nashville, Ali mentioned that she was having trouble in her yoga class because she didn’t have enough upper body strength to do some of the exercises. We decided that we would do pushups together when we got to our hotel each night.
At first Ali started doing “knee pushups;” That’s where you rest some of your weight on your knees instead of your feet to make the pushups easier to do. Soon she was knocking them out right along with me. And before long she was doing more than I could do.
Since that great journey, we still help each other with our fitness goals. Each evening Ali texts me the word “Yoga,” meaning she’s done her yoga and her pushups too. And every morning when I finish my sunrise run, I send Ali a text that says “PUD.” That acronym stands for “Pushups Done,” meaning I did my run and my pushups.
Besides helping us stay in touch, these daily notes provide a serious degree of accountability. On days when I don’t want to get out of bed and run, or I don’t want to do my pushups after my run is complete, I know that I need to send Ali a text letting her know that I did what I said I would do. And it’s that accountability that motivates me to do what I don’t want to do. As much as Ali loves her yoga classes, I’m sure that there are times when the only reason she actually rolls up her mat and goes to the yoga studio is because she knows I’m waiting to hear if she went or not.
Mastering the Mastermind
It was the same when it was time to sell my business. After almost 32 years, I found that selling the business and walking away was very difficult – regardless of how much I wanted to do just that. Merely talking about my plans wasn’t enough to get the job done.
I credit my mastermind group with helping me do what I had to do to change my life. My mastermind group is a collection of friends and businesses associates whom I get together with twice a year to discuss our businesses and our lives and push each other to achieve those goals. And after our summer meeting, where I promised my group I was going to make a change, I knew I had to do it. I was going to see them again in January and I knew that they would not accept my telling them I hadn’t done what I said I would. My mastermind group’s support made me accountable to do something that I wanted to accomplish and needed to accomplish. But I was still uncomfortable actually taking the first step to cross the chasm. Thanks to the folks in my mastermind, I did what I had to do.
There are lots of ways to be accountable – tell others what you’re going to do; make daily or weekly ToDo lists and follow them scrupulously; write your goals on Post-It Notes and place them in your medicine cabinet, in your refrigerator, on your steering wheel, and other places that you look at a lot. But the best method is to simply have people who have your back and will both congratulate you when you do what you’re supposed to (Ali always attaches a heart emoji to my PUD notes) and will also remind you when maybe you haven’t been quite so disciplined.