There’s a really good reason why people who want to lose weight achieve their goal if they go to a group meeting, like WeightWatchers. And their success is not to do with this being a shared experience – most people are strangers at the start of the Weight Watchers experience.
But what the WeightWatchers Group Meeting has in spades is a factor of accountability. And when you want to get something done if you feel that you’re accountable to an individual, or a group of people, it can really help motivate you on those days when you just don’t want to do anything.
And this works for Weight Watchers. It can also be applied to learning the bass guitar. Before we look at how we can apply it to the bass, let’s examine exactly what this factor of accountability is, and how it works.
What Is This Factor Of Accountability?
Merriam Webster’s online dictionary tells us that accountability is: “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.”
So if we’re going to make ourselves accountable for a task we have to be willing to both accept responsibility for performing that task AND accounting to someone (or some people) exactly what we have done.
How Does The Factor Of Accountability Work?
The Factor Of Accountability is like a self fulfilling prophecy: you feel accountable to someone (or some people) to perform an action, therefore you do it. There are areas in your life where it’s already present:
Your job: most of us turn up every day to our place of work. On or before the time stipulated in our contracts. We’re accountable to our co-workers. And our bosses.
If you’re part of a sports team – or a band – or any kind of group activity: there will be regular sessions of your team or your band that you’ll be expected to attend. There will be days you don’t feel like it but you’ll still go – because you feel accountable to your team mates. Or your band mates.
And that’s how accountability works – because you don’t want to let anyone down (including yourself).
Accountability And Getting Better At The Bass
If you go to one of the top music schools – like Berklee in Boston, or BIT in LA – this accountability is built into the experience. You have classes that you have to take. You have assignments that you have to complete. You have practice that you have to do in order to keep up with both the lessons and the other students.
For most students who take courses at these music schools this ‘need’ to keep up with their lessons and their peers creates a driving momentum that leads them to put in a ton of practice. That leads them to stand up and be fully accountable.
But if you’re taking lessons with a private teacher this accountability factor is lessened. Sure you’ve got to work on the material you cover in each lesson before you can progress onto the next lesson. But the ‘need’ to keep up is lessened. If you have a bad week you can always phone or email your Teacher and put the lesson off for a few days. Or a week.
And that is something that can quickly become a habit. I’ve had students who want to learn the bass, but they don’t make themselves accountable enough and let things slide if the going gets tough.
Making yourself accountable is a good thing – it is a motivational tool you can use in your busy life to make sure you’re getting things done. So you need to come up with viable accountability strategies to help you get through those bad days that we all get.
So here are some methods you could use to help generate some accountability in your bass playing lives:
1) Get A ‘Task’ Buddy.
A task buddy is someone who you email your progress too. So say you’ve decided that this week yo’ve got the time to slot in five practice sessions then you email your task buddy at the start of the week and let him know that.
Each day that you complete a session you email your task buddy and let him know. And his or her job is to email back and say: Well done. Or to email you and say: Hey, you haven’t emailed me today. What’s going on?
Being a task buddy is an important job – having someone to watch over you can really help when you’re feeling a bit low. Getting an encouraging word now and then can really help refresh your desire to progress on the bass and put some practice in.
Knowing there’s someone out there who will be disappointed if yo don’t maintain your allotted schedule is a powerful incentive to get your practice in. But there’s something more powerful than a ‘Task’ Buddy.
2) Get a Group Of Task Buddies
A group of task buddies is exactly that – four or five people who are looking over you and encouraging you to keep going. This is exponentially more powerful than just a single task buddy – it’s like having your own personal bass playing mastermind group. And often if one of your buddies drops off because of stuff in their life then another one will step up to the plate and take the slack.
The best way in my opinion of working with a group of task buddies is on a private internet forum. It works like gangbusters.
3) Email daily updates to your mentor/teacher
This is similar to the first strategy – except there is less feedback. Recently I had a task to perform – not bass related – which requires regular 30 minute sessions of work. And I just wasn’t getting it done. And the guy I was doing it for knew I was busy and asked if I wanted to take a break.
Well, I didn’t want to let him down. So I said to him: How about I do my 30 minutes first thing every morning and – MOST IMPORTANTLY – email you every day with my recorded progress.
He said: Let’s see how that works.
So we tried it. And it worked fantastically. The accountability factor of having to send that email every morning MADE me sit down and do the 30 minutes work, irrespective of whether I wanted to or not.
Helping My Students Out With Accountability
This issue has arisen recently for a couple of students who are part of my Protégé/Online Bass Lesson Classes.
And I’m trying out Strategy 3 with these guys. At some stage in the near future I would actually like to get a forum going for my students, and see how Strategy 2 works for them.
But the important thing is to put a strategy in place and let the power of accountability help you maintain a healthy daily – or near daily – practice regime.
1) We need to practice regularly. But often life interferes and we go a day – or more – without doing the practice we should. And our goals of improvement on the bass suffer as a direct consequence.
2) If we make ourselves accountable to someone – or a group of people – then we don’t want to let them down. If that accountability is directly related to playing the bass – and it means we practice more – then that’s win-win for us.
3) Pick an accountability strategy and put it into place. A healthy practice habit is easier to cultivate once it’s flourishing (HINT: aim to make practicing a habit). Harness the power of accountability to help create that habit.
Weightwatcher groups work. Yes there are people who drop out at week one or week two. But the people who go week after week lose weight on a consistent basis. Because there’s a really healthy accountability factor built into the experience. You can put that same accountability factor to work in achieving your bass goals – you just need to be a little creative in how you set it up.
True Story #2: This article was written as part of an Article Writing Course I’ve been taken. Each week my fellow students and I have to complete two articles and post them on a private forum for comments, critique, encouragement etc. And even though it’s the end of the day and I feel like chilling out and listening to the new Joss Stone album, the power of accountability – specifically not wanting to let my classmates down – made me put that album aside and write this article first.