Today I enjoyed a special celebration lunch with my husband Byron and my co-publishers, Eitan and Stacey Battat of Kiwi Publishing. This lunch was the long-awaited closure to the accountability deal that we agreed to in the early spring of 2010.
This is the inside story of how I was able to achieve the goal of publishing my first book, Networking Ahead for Business: the Best Vehicle to Get More Customers, Make More Friends and Create More Opportunities for Yourself and Others (Kiwi Publishing 2010).
This is a story of carrott-stick motivation and the valuable gift of having an accountability buddy.
Let me back up and tell you how our book discussions even got started…
In the winter of 2009, Eitan suggested that we sit down for lunch and see if we could do something together. We met at the On the Border restaurant in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. I remember that the tortilla soup was overly salty, but the conversation was perfectly seasoned to create new opportunity. In principle, we agreed that we could help each other: They could help me publish my first book, and I could help them launch their new custom book business.
That was it; I found my publisher. No more procrastination and talk; it was time for action. The timeline had been set: book launch in “T minus nine months.” When I returned to my office, I announced on LinkedIn that I was launching a new book in the fall of 2010. I needed to put more public accountability into my efforts to prevent me from another well-intended project that ended in incompletion. This one meant too much to me. It had to happen.
Plagued by procrastination
Three months later, I had little more than the original book idea and a cool book cover that I designed (the only evidence of productivity after eight hours of sitting there, not writing). This wasn’t writer’s block; this was a very clear-cut case of writer’s procrastination.
Every incoming e-mail was a welcome distraction. Days would go by with nothing to show for myself. I would feel really guilty as I superficially prepared for my bi-weekly meetings with Stacey and Eitan. I thought we could focus most of the two-hour meeting on their project, to hide the fact that I had done nothing significant on the book for 14 days.
Finally, I begged for help. I asked Eitan to help hold me accountable. I needed a swift kick in the butt to get me back on track. I couldn’t seem to do that for myself.
The truth about what really motivates me
He asked me a simple question: “Would you like the carrot or the stick?”
I said, “Excuse me?”
He replied,“Carrot or stick, choose! What works better for you?”
I got a sinking feeling in my stomach; I knew where he was headed with this line of questioning. I so wanted to say “carrot.” I pride myself on being a positive person who focuses on what she wants and is moved by “go forward” motivation. But the reward system wasn’t working for me. That was pretty evident.
“Stick,” I ‘fessed up.
Eitan then asked me for my credit card.
Once again I said, “Excuse me?” “
He restated his request, “May I have your credit card, please?”
I handed it to him as a child who returns an item that doesn’t belong to her and waits for the punishment from her parent.
The terms of the deal
Eitan stated the terms of the accountability. “If you don’t submit five chapters a week to me, I will charge your credit card $55, and Stacey and I will go out to our favorite restaurant.”
Then I asked him, “OK, but what happens if I meet my deadline? Where’s my carrot?”
He said that if I made all of the deadlines without a hitch, they would take me and my husband Byron out for a great dinner at their favorite restaurant. Do you see the theme of “their favorite restaurant?” My goodness, they really love this place.
The deal was on. He had my credit card number, and I knew he would charge it if I failed to meet the Monday noon deadline. My money was truly where my mouth was.
New habits form quickly
That started my new habit of getting up at 5:30AM, every morning to write, including Saturdays and Sundays. Some weeks I did really well, producing a chapter a day and finishing before the weekend. Other weeks it didn’t go so well, and I was in writer’s jail, having to write five chapters in one day. That was a tough day, and I can’t say that I produced very good work. Thank goodness for editors!
The sweet taste of achievement!
But we did it!! The book is now published and is available to order on-line through Amazon.com and through Kiwi’s on-line store site ThinThreads.com. (The digital book version for Kindle is coming soon!)
I met the deadlines – all of them.
No matter what anyone says, writing a book is hard work. It takes unbelievable amounts of discipline and effort. And it takes people to support you and hold you accountable.
Here is the image and quotation in the congratulations card that Stacey and Eitan gave to me at lunch today. It included this inspiring quote:
“The credit belongs to those peole who are actually in the arena…who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions to a worthy cause; who at best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
The lesson learned
If you want to achieve something big in your life, try putting your money where your mouth is. And find a strong accountability partner to help you. Know what motivates you and what doesn’t motivate you. Know what distracts you and limit its exposure and access to you. You have a big goal to achieve.
Most of all, find the people in your personal and business network who will support you in achieving your goals. That’s the magic of networking and relationship-building.
No one achieves anything great in isolation. It is with and through people that your goals and dreams can come true. Engage people in your journey.
- To learn more about my book Networking Ahead for Business, visit the companion web site: www.NetworkingAhead.com
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