Accountability (and discipline)

In a previous blog post I talked about consistency. It is universally acknowledged that consistency is the back bone of achievement. But there is another facet that helps to achieve consistency and that is accountability.

I’ve never quite been able to reconcile in head that people are so willing to neglect their own best interests in favour of just about anything.

Myself included.

I can’t speak for others but it’s frustrating just how willing I am to lie to myself (and believe those lies knowing them to be such), despite many of the trite quotes hurled my way. Although, a quick search of the internet reveals that many people apparently lie to themselves and not realise they’re doing it! Alas, I’ve never had the bliss of such ignorance.

So, when we talk about accountability, to be accountable to oneself should be top of the list, but sometimes it’s good to have a backup. I think that’s why I enjoyed lots of success with my goals when I had Pete to do the hard work for me. Having to sit opposite him each week and justify my decisions meant that I was much more likely to make good choices.  

Ditto having a coach now. I know Jon is checking in on a daily basis. As a result, I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that every time I upload a completed session it turns green. Finally, a use for my almost obsessional desire to please.

Accountability in the form of self-discipline reared its head on Saturday at parkrun. Occasionally at runs one would witness a poor child being coerced around a run course. And yes, I realise I’m on slightly dodgy ground here and yes I also realise not having kids makes me an reluctant expert.

But on Saturday I witnessed it twice. And I will be frank – it’s very uncomfortable to watch a child, clearly not enjoying themselves and in some cases visibly distressed – being dragged by one arm and shouted at to run quicker because ‘it’s what we do’. I wondered to myself whether for some, parkrun has replaced the dreaded school cross country runs of the 1970’s and 80’s.

Later, I heard that parent talk to a friend about how children had to be coerced. That behaviour was necessary because they were not yet adults who had learned discipline and could recognise the benefits of regular running. They were congratulating and self satisfied. I felt slightly nauseous and moved away so I couldn’t hear them.

But, it did get me thinking about discipline and accountability to ourselves and here we are now. 

One of the attributes I sadly lack is discipline. So, I was interested in an article published in the Farnham Street blog ‘brainfood’. You can see the whole article here.

In the article the author quotes Scott Peck, who in essence argues that people generally want an easy time of it, but in doing so they make life harder for themselves. That it is in the ’whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has meaning.’ They further quote Benjamin Franklin who was more succinct ‘Those things that hurt, instruct.’  Which is the essence of my blog post earlier this week.

But hurting yourself isn’t enough. It needs to be accompanied by the desire to learn from the experience. I fear those kids mentioned above may only learn that running is not enjoyable and will walk away from the sport at their earliest convenience (no pun intended). While for those who wish to learn discipline. One may need to understand what the lesson is and why it is important. 

In the Farnham Street blog, they cite delayed gratification; accepting responsibility; dedication to reality and balancing as the four pillars to achieving discipline. So, don’t expect it immediately, accept that success or failure is in your hands, don’t lie to yourself and understand that flexibility is essential to achieving greatness. I would add one other, understand the why of what you are trying to do.

I’m working on all of those things but until I achieve them, I’ll carry on enjoying turning those sessions green. 

3 thoughts on “Accountability (and discipline)

  1. I am a gret box ticker and a list maker and working to an achieving a goal. I do build in building blocks to acheivre that and ensure my goal is slightly outside my comfort zone but I know I can do it unless something gets in my way such as injury or this monring having a race cancellled due to the winds and flooding on the Jurassic Coast but I will pick myself up and drive home and even if raining will go out for a run. Keep ticking the boxes and building to your goal bit by bit with mini goals in between.

    Liked by 1 person

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