RIKI: The idea of an accountabilibuddy comes from fitness and exercise. It’s much easier to stick to a diet or workout plan when you do it with a friend. You can set up a competition between you if that type of thing motivates you. You can support each other through tough times. But most often, you have someone to talk to about the journey and check in with from time to time. With that introduction, let’s call upon my accountabilibuddy. Hey, Eric!
ERIC: Early this year I set two goals for myself:
1) Write a review for every multi-judge event I work.
2) Write at least 50 reviews in 2016.
Shortly after I mentioned these goals to Riki, he added me to a Google document, a spreadsheet used by a group of judges publicly tracking progress on their goals. My impression? Awesome. Here’s a place where I can map out my goals for other people to see them and poke me if they see me slipping. But is it good enough? Where is the incentive and drive to keep checking back?
As we talked about the spreadsheet, Riki asked me to be his accountabilibuddy — a word that I love although it’s an abomination to type. By taking the next step toward consistent feedback, Riki and I have invested in each other’s success.
RIKI: I’m very motivated by competition. Because Eric knows this, he pokes and prods me. When the year started, he messaged me every time he wrote a review, especially when he could remind me that he was currently ahead of me in total count. I judge enough events that I usually have one to three reviews in my “holding pen.” Every message from Eric pressures me to turn to my notes and finish one of those delinquent reviews, which don’t deserved to be called “outstanding” any more than matches still going after time is called in a round.
ERIC: I can now look at this spreadsheet and see that Riki is well on his way to transcending his human form and finally becoming Feedback Elemental.
RIKI: I’ve taken the lead for the year, and I don’t plan on ever looking back. But monthly totals are a thing. Since we also track reviews by month, it is possible for Eric to take an early lead and poke me. But slow and steady will win this race.
ERIC: But it isn’t just about numbers. Having an accountabilibuddy means that I have someone that I can go to when I need help. About a month ago I was writing a tough review. I needed to be very direct and stern with another judge about their performance. But I also wanted this judge to know that I care about their success. When Riki looked over my draft, he helped me articulate some points more clearly, resulting in a review I was very happy with.
While working on another difficult review, I mentioned to Riki that I was feeling negative about an experience I had at a local event. And that negative feeling had prevented me from making progress with my feedback goals. My accountabilibuddy asked me simply:
RIKI: “Who was your favorite judge at Grand Prix DC?” This is one of my go-to questions when someone needs the material and the motivation to write a review.
ERIC: Shortly thereafter, I was several hundred words into a positive review of my team lead at Grand Prix D.C. That night I went to bed feeling recharged by this positive investment into the judge program rather than negative about my own difficulty in articulating feedback. The encouragement of my accountabilibuddy not only improved my mood but also enabled me to articulate feedback for a judge who helped make an event awesome.
RIKI: When it comes to feedback, it’s easy to get bogged down in criticism. Too often we forget about the praise and appreciation angle. Focusing only on criticism can weigh on you. Switching gears can lift your mood, especially if you’ve been too entrenched in a cycle of negative feedback.
ERIC: Like reviews, accountability is about investing in another person. It’s about making sure that none of us feel like we’re on an island. It’s about remembering that we as a program are all working toward the same goals. And those goals are easier to achieve with advice and encouragement.
RIKI: As the grizzled reviewing veteran in this relationship, it may seem like I don’t have much to gain from working with Eric. In actuality, my involvement in his journey has been personally enriching. I’m like his personal review trainer, and watching him hit his goals gives me a sense of accomplishment. Plus, every conversation I have with him about reviews is a subtle (or not so subtle) reminder that I could be writing a review.
Say, maybe it’s time to look over my notes again and see what I’ve got on people.