Accountability Pacts. These things matter!
What’s gooooood YouTube?? Hey everyone.
My good friend Nick and I recently entered into an accountability challenge. I asked that he hold me to blogging 1/week, and not just blogging, but writing high quality stuff. In the spirit of it, here I am, 12 hours later, writing an entry. I’ll let him share his own challenge, but it’s also a weekly goal.
Let’s discuss the roles of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and these so-called accountability pacts that I have learned to love. It’s plain to me that early on in my life, I was completely extrinsically motivated. I spent all day every day sizing myself up to people around me. For better or worse, growing up in Tigard, Oregon, I was always able to tell myself the story that I was the best.
I spent my pre-college academic career crafting a resume that I felt was better than everyone else’s. I was a straight A student, valedictorian, athlete, musician, volunteer, student leader, but I only enjoyed maybe 15% of the actual things I did. Wrestling I loved, but mostly I just loved besting my peers. Anytime they did something great (lol, rarely) it would light a fire under me to do more, and be more. Their success was my pain. If I met someone who I felt was comparatively excellent to me, I’d tell myself a story of how my unique portfolio in aggregate was still better than theirs. I know, I’m insane. Such was the mind of 18yo Billy McLellarn.
Looking back, I wasn’t really doing anything THAT amazing. I didn’t win any state titles, national titles, awards, like many of my fellow Stanford homies did. TBH, I don’t think I knew they existed. I was just benchmarking myself to the other Tigard High School jabronis. It felt good, but it was a self-limiting attitude.
In college, I wasn’t all that different. Goldman helped me tell myself the story that I was still “great” and then I was competing with a new breed of peer, a diverse group of HYPers that pushed me to new levels of effort.
In the post-Goldman era, I’ve really struggled to find the intrinsic motivation that matches up against my old extrinsic one. Pain and suffering are the best motivator. I believe this. But they suck. Do you really want to live your entire life chasing other people, suffering when they triumph and seeing life as a zero-sum game? I don’t. I refuse to. So now I eagerly pursue sources of pure intrinsic motivation.
I like helping people. I like coaching people. I like the idea that I can improve the lifestyle design of my peers. I want to help 18yo kids like me re-think their mental model of “making it”. These are of a few of the maxims I’ve uncovered by just listening to myself. Gary V says, in between his fucks and shits, that self awareness is everything. He’s right. I laugh sometimes thinking “How did I figure out my favorite food?” I obviously didn’t look at the people around me and try to do what they did. I tried shit. I liked it, or I didn’t. I learned.
The same rule more or less applies now. There’s just a lot of noise in the world telling us what we should chase. Still a long way to go. But intrinsic motivation is about vision and purpose. Your OWN vision and purpose. I feel that Team Health & Team Wealth is a super broad way for me to describe those, and I hope to get closer soon. I miss having a vision that truly excites me. I will get there.
In the meantime, I love helping my peers, and having them help me, supplement intrinsic motivation. Our accountability pacts always look like this: each person sets a goal, a frequency, and a penalty. It’s important that the frequency is the same, so that the check-in interval happens regularly. You still have to set a why - WHY is this goal important? The WHY must come intrinsically. Okay, now we sprinkle in a bit of extrinsic push from someone we know, respect, care about. Boom! Accountability pact.
My experience has taught me that making the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation is a lifetime process. It’s such a seismic shift that there were weeks, nearly months where if I didn’t have to do anything, I didn’t. Watch Netflix for 8 hours in 2 days? Why not? So I’m trying to make it a bit more gradual. Hopefully that’s a better plan for amazing long term outcomes.
With that, I’m out!
Team Health & Team Wealth