Xavier Jared


Two brothers on personal development, philosophy, and being awesome

Passive Accountability


A while ago I coined the term “passive accountability”. I’m quite proud of it because it sounds smart, but means something simple—I can relate to that. Having passive accountability is a bit like having a constant sense of responsibility for your actions. You already have it in many areas of your life—getting out of bed to go to work, group assignment deadlines, and making sure you get that shelf up before the wife comes home are just a few examples. These aren’t the most fun activities and they definitely aren’t awesome. I’m going to show you how to create passive accountability for yourself in the awesome areas of your life so you can use it along your quest for excellence.

There are so many things we actually enjoy doing and things we really want to get done in our lives, but we’re so much better at going to work than we are at doing them. A third party is counting on you to be somewhere or get something done and like the chump you are, you get it done for ‘em! I’m assuming two things here: One, that getting up and going to work is the epitome of no fun; and two, that you’re in the same position as me. I actually enjoy my work at the moment, but just having to get up on someone else’s schedule is the worst! And I consider myself pretty good at getting things done (when the result might be me becoming more awesome that is). But even with these things I find myself piking when I probably shouldn’t.

Get passive accountability up ya!

There are a few reasons why we can feel a constant sense of responsibility. I’m going to break some of them down so you can start using them to your advantage.

Money. If our actions result in money then we are more likely to do them.

Responsibility. We get group assignments done because people depend on us to do so. We feel guilty if people are depending on us and we don’t deliver. For all you fitness buffs out there just think how much easier it is to get out of bed when you’re going for a jog with someone versus trying to do it solo.

Social conditioning. This is the big one. We get up and go to work because that’s the way the world works. It’s just what you do, and what you’ve always been told to do.

So going by my list, if we get money + responsibility + a better attitude and put them in the right place (up ya), we will get better at doing awesome things! To get these things you’re going to need to do a bit of brainstorming. I’ll share some ways I’m currently doing it to help you get started.

A few years ago I started playing in a cover band. I said yes to it originally because saying yes to things is generally a good idea. After a while we started playing fairly regularly and the money I was getting from it started putting lentils on the table and keeping the utility companies off my back. I still had to work odd jobs and bat my eyelids at the parentals but it was something. This all just sort of fell into my lap and doesn’t really fit in with my whole passive accountability thing. It wasn’t until the start of this year that I got serious and really started pushing for more ways to make drumming sustainable.

I knew some other musicians who were getting teaching positions and thought to myself: If they can do that, why can’t I!? I threw up flyers all around the neighbourhood and started searching online for teaching positions. The flyers were a misfire but I did manage to get a few interviews. I quickly realised that to get a teaching position it helped to have a more than “Plays in a rock cover band” on my resume. Eventually I got a lucky break and a school I applied for called me saying they desperately needed a drumming teacher. I’m not sure what circumstances put them in that situation; I guess all of their’s spontaneously combusted. A few days, a shave, and a nice shirt later I was dropping the drumming knowledge on budding Buddy Rich’s. With the teaching position I had a new source of drumming related income, a bunch of students, and a new boss—all of which relied on me being able to teach and play drums. I also had a new attitude that didn’t include working unfulfilling and awesome-negating jobs to get by.

Drumming probably isn’t your thing. The situation I was in might be though. I was really enjoying playing but it was taking a back seat because I put university and work as my priority. That had to change. I had to rethink my view on things. Why was work so important? Why was someone paying me to call strangers and get their opinions on soft drink brands? (Yes I actually did this, sorry society.) It wasn’t enough to just enjoy doing something. I had to put myself in a position where every day I’d wake up and the environment and circumstances surrounding me were yelling “hey you! Drumming dude! We can make this happen!” I’ve since moved out of the city into a bigger place where I can constantly have my gear set up, dropped back to part time study, joined a ton of bands, and am working on writing drumming related articles and e-books.

These don’t have to be big life decisions. I just felt like sharing. Jump online and tell the world how you will become more awesome. It’s easy. Watch this: “Hey internet! I’m going to do 1000 push-ups in a single day by the end of the year” (I have no idea if that’s hard to do, it sounds pretty awesome though and I do like doing push-ups.) Now you try. Tell all your friends and family members about that blog you’ve been meaning to start, or that book you’ve always wanted to write, or those singing lessons you’ve wanted to take. If you put it out there you wont just be letting yourself down.

Puttin’ it up others

Xav and I create passive accountability for each other all the time. This blog is a perfect example. We constantly email each other about what we’re writing, what’s going to go out for the next update, and we meet up at least once a week to put some solid time into any areas of the blog that need attention. You can do this too! Get on your friend’s backs about things: “I can’t wait for your next blog update, seems like its been ages!” “How’s the training going? Lets go for a run tomorrow morning,” “Signed up for those dance classes yet?” Let them know that you care about what they’re doing. I love it when I jump on Facebook and I see my friends spurring each other on with their assignments. Sitting back and spectating the race to hit the word limit gives me one of those end-of-sitcom-heart-felt-moment moments.

By definition passive accountability is just that: passive. It’s always there and if you’re on the right track you’re probably swimming in the stuff. You could always be swimming in more stuff though so challenge yourself to step it up. Cancel that Sunday shift at work and put some time into the areas of your life you actually want to work on; let people know what you’re up to; make your goals public; be a champ and get on your friend’s backs about things. If everything around you is telling you to become more awesome you’ll eventually become more awesome.

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