In between thinking about what I was going to do on the weekend and just plain staring out the window, I did actually learn something in Year 11 Biology. There was survival of the species, the structure and function of living things and the evolution of these systems.
All pretty good stuff I suppose, but interesting enough to hold my attention for an entire 45 minute lesson? Not a chance. Ever to be used outside the classroom? Didn’t think so at the time.That was until some years later and after a chance meeting with a top IBM executive. He (re)introduced the concept of “homeostasis” to me.
Homeostasis, from the Greek word "steady," refers to any process that living things use to actively maintain the fairly stable conditions necessary for survival. In humans, simple examples of homeostasis at work are:
And it just happens. Nature’s way of keeping things in balance.
All pretty good stuff I suppose, but interesting enough to hold your attention? (Yep, I know the feeling, I’ll get to the point).
Well, research also shows that homeostasis directly impacts our decision making. A part of our brain is linking how we make choices with our need to maintain this homeostatic balance.
Of course, we all know this balance as our comfort zone - our natural want for things to stay just the way they are, thanks very much.
The thing is, there aren’t many worthwhile things accomplished when we are taking it easy. As Dick Branson says, ‘if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough’.
So to get the most out of ourselves, we need a state of relative anxiety--a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. We need to get comfortable with this discomfort if we are to achieve more.
But it’s not easy, because our body is fighting it.
Which brings me to the point.
Homeostasis also explains why so many of us find it difficult to hold ourselves personally accountable. We hire personal trainers, life coaches, financial planners, we go to weight watchers or buy smartphone apps to help force us to do the things we can’t force ourselves to do – to give us that rocket when we need it.
Greatness at all levels is bred from this accountability (I’ve never met anyone who was truly great at something who wasn’t accountable).
As a parent, spouse, business owner, leader, team mate or friend, honestly looking at your actions and being held accountable to them determines the quality and standards of your life. Allowing yourself to be called on them gives you the opportunity to improve and move forward.
Accountability can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and difficult, but it can also make you feel proud and accomplished.
What accountability structures do you have in place?
Performance is maximised when Motivation, Opportunity and Ability work together
You either made those calls or you didn’t. You either ran that 10km’s or you didn’t. You either kept your commitments or you didn’t.
For those of you using the MOA model to build your own personal plan for improved performance and success, you can mark this as your first and probably most important task. It relates to motivation - find an accountability partner.
Only a tiny fraction of the millions of projects started today will ever get completed, despite the initial enthusiasm, the best of intentions and all the great planning.
Homeostasis tells us that we all need a shove from time to time to get things done. In fact, the focus and feedback from regular accountability sessions can have the greatest impact on personal productivity. If you want to say "I DID IT" regularly, an Accountability Partner is an essential step.
Can’t afford one? Here are a couple of alternatives.
1. Ask a friend to keep you accountable.
Most of us will have a friend that understands what we do. If not, explain what you do to someone you trust.
2. Create your own accountability group.
If you know of other people who are in a similar boat to yours, create your own support group.
Both of these will work. While there’s no hard and fast rules, below is a simple template for how it might operate.
Try it, it works!