Over the years, I’ve learned never to respect people who worry about their ideas being stolen.
After all, what is an “original idea?” For that matter, how can it be proven?
To me, it simply hasn’t seemed like something to worry about.
Of course that isn’t suggesting that I plagiarize—believe me, I have enough to say. People who know me personally have a hard time shutting me up.
But What Does This Have to Do with the GMAT?
More than you think. How much value do you put on your GMAT preparation?
Just as people like to steal ideas, thinking it will make them rich, some like to download books and information products online, often without paying.
On the one hand, this isn’t much different than, say, checking a book out of the library.
On the other, I seriously doubt whether the level of respect for this information—so easily gotten—is enough for the user to take it seriously.
What is the One Thing Missing?
One word: accountability.
For someone who doesn’t pay for information, it is easy come, easy go.
Yes, of course there is the rare person who loves the information so much that he or she will spend hours perusing it, getting all the knowledge possible out of it.
For that matter, with my own content, I actually encourage this. It is these non-paying followers who are the greatest proselytizers—and their friends buy!
Yet still, for most, the content is useless—not because it is bad, but because it goes ignored.
Despite our best intentions, sometimes if there is no carrot and stick, we aren’t going to get anything done.
We need a reason to keep working. To do the uncomfortable things that none of us want to do, but that are essential to simply GET THINGS DONE.
How Do I Find Accountability?
There are many models to get accountability.
Let’s talk about the biggest four:
1) Negative Consequences (aka “Detention”): you can force yourself to do something if you know that by doing so, you will be responsible for something terrible.
E.g., Esquire editor AJ Jacobs famously agreed to donate $1000 to a group of White Supremacists if he slipped and started snacking again.
2) Positive Benefits (aka “I Accidentally Bought a Motorbike This Way”): you promise yourself a nice, big reward when done. You can even save up for it, but see above for potentially awkward consequences.
E.g., working toward a huge vacation after you succeed on the GMAT.
3) Get a Buddy (aka “Fun Ways to Drink and Tell Stories Without Reaching Your Goals”): you find somebody trying to do the same thing you are. E.g. You want to lose weight? Find someone else trying to do the same thing. Compete. Lose 5kg before he or she does.
Each of these, of course, are extremely effective in individual circumstances. I’ve found that Positive Benefits has helped me with huge projects such as renovating my house.
I’ve found that Negative Consequences has helped me break free of bad attitudes, such as pinching myself whenever I complain.
However, the grossly underrated third option is my favorite and most consistent.
4) Pay for Accountability (aka “Get Shit Done”): you find a mentor or coach and take lessons in your chosen subject. E.g., you aren’t studying correctly or effectively, so you call YGC .
Not only will you get direction and guidance, you will find someone whom you want to impress—a relationship created entirely for progress toward your goals, and maintained for just such a purpose.
At any given time, I work with 2-3 live instructors on various aspects of my life, whether that is life coaching, NLP, driving, learning the drums.
Furthermore, I belong to an online mastermind group—by subscription—that keeps me moving forward in business.
Just last week I completed a 5-day fast because I paid for the privilege—without the money invested in doing so, I would never have mustered the willpower to do it.
But Can’t I Get Accountability for Free?
Sure, but I argue that you won’t respect it.
When I was a kid I spend countless hours in music lessons that were funded by my family.
Arguably, I never took them seriously because I didn’t pay for them. Of course there would be consequences if I didn’t practice, but these were minor.
I simply didn’t care enough about the music itself, and that was the only incentive I actually had.
It was only when I became an adult and started paying for lessons myself that I realized one can use the tail to wag the dog: paying for the lessons made me put the effort into practicing, which in turn made me appreciate the music more.
(And regret time wasted when younger!)
Likewise, I’ve been offering my partner guitar lessons for years, but it’s too easy for her not to take them because they’re free.
That is, what’s the point? What responsibility does she have to me?
That said, I’m sure she will take lessons and get good–when I book lessons for her with a paid tutor.
Find the Way That Works for You, and Get Accountable Today.
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p.s. What is the financial limit below which you would simply be throwing the money away and not care?
p.p.s. Do you have any other accountability systems? I’m eager to hear about them.