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Why I wrote a $100 check to the Nazi Party

Why I wrote a $100 check to the Nazi Party

April 03, 2016

There are times in life when failure is just not an option. That's why I wrote a check to the American Nazi Party.

Let me explain.

A while ago I was coaching a client named Steve who was living the "entrepreneur's nightmare". He woke up at 4:30 AM to scramble to the office and stayed at work until late at night when he came home and collapsed. He rarely ate dinner with his family and hardly saw his wife and son who had cerebral palsy. Steve's business was totally dependent on him and he double checked all of the quotes and micro-managed everything. He simply “couldn’t trust” his workers to do it right.  He worked harder and longer than everyone else.

Things were getting out of control and something had to change.

That's where we came in. Together, we set a goal for him: be home for dinner by 6:30 PM. Every day. If he had to stay late on occasion it wasn’t a problem, but he had to call his wife beforehand and to let her know that he wouldn't be home on time. The reality is that things do come up.

But here was the catch: if he didn't stick to his promise for 2 months, he and I had to make $100 donations to the American Nazi Party (imagine a Jewish guy like me on a Nazi website trying to figure out how to go about making a donation!) But, if he kept his commitment to doing what really mattered most to him, we'd both send donations to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

We weren't playing games; the checks were actually written and signed.

And we didn't keep it quiet either. He shared his wager with everyone he knew.  

So did it work?

Are you kidding me? THERE WAS NO WAY IN THE WORLD I WAS GOING TO LET HIM FAIL AND SEND A CHECK TO THE NAZIS.  He totally followed through with his goal, and I gladly mailed our donations to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. (Whew!)

Here's why it worked: it's called the Art of Accountability.

See, we've all set goal for ourselves before. Whether it was to lose weight, spend more time with our family, kick the bad habit, achieve the new level of business success, or accomplish that long awaited dream, we know that first burst of motivation. We promise ourselves, "this time, it's for real."

We have the best intentions, but somehow we find ourselves slipping back into our old routine 2 weeks, 6 months, or a year down the road. The motivation wears off and we're back at square one. Again.

Discover how to Master the Art of Accountability for you and your team. Download your free ebook and learn the 6-step process to create a sense of accountability, ownership, and urgency.

So what's the secret? How do some people actually manage to accomplish their goals?


Here are 5 fail-proof steps to accomplish your goals using the Art of Accountability:

1. What's the payoff?

The first question to ask yourself is, "what's the big payoff"? See, to sell anything, you need to build up its value to the customer. You're no different. Build up the big value of accomplishing your goal. Ask yourself how this achievement will really improve your life?

Get super clear on what you want to accomplish, then actually visualize and experience your success.

Find out why 3% of Harvard MBA's make 10 times as much as the other 97%.

2. Make failure too painful

Steve (and I) couldn't handle sending a donation to the Nazi Party. It was just too "wrong" for us to handle. The only feasible option was to succeed.

Here's another true story from a client whom I've worked with:

Tim was a high-end guy. He had an elaborate wine collection, with bottles ranging from $50 to $1000 a bottle, and an extensive array of designer shoes. He decided that if he failed to meet his goal he would have to wear Payless shoes and cook with one of his best bottle of wine in his cellar! Can you imagine pouring a $800 bottle of wine into a bowl of pasta? Ouch! Needless to say, he accomplished his goals.

Human nature is to run away from pain. If you're serious about accomplishing your goal, set up real, uncomfortable consequences for not following through. Make failure so painful that you'll do whatever it takes to avoid it.

3. Positive motivation

Running away from pain only gets us so far. People aren't just fear driven, they also seek pleasure. Set up a realistic, personalized reward for accomplishing your goal.

This is one of my favorite members. Gerry was a fanatic vegan. We set the stakes high in both directions: if he didn't accomplish his goal he would have to eat a hamburger with ketchup, which would literally make him vomit. However, if he succeeded, he would get a $500 shopping spree at Patagonia.

The positive motivation has to be meaningful to you. Pick a reward that speaks to you and will give you that extra push to achieve it.

4. Accountability Coach

Here's a secret to why these stories were successful: I didn't help them create the goal then leave them to fend for themselves. I actually coached them through implementing it and checked in with them along the way.

Steve and I mapped out how he would make it home by 6:30. He could have had the best intentions and motivators, but unless he had someone coaching him through the steps it would take to get there, he wouldn't have made it.

I actually called or texted Steve at 5:30 several times to make sure he was wrapping up at work and was on track to heading home. He had to report to me and together we changed his family life.

Find a coach. This could be a mentor, friend, or family member who will help you speak out and implement your plan and then hold you accountable. Make sure it's an outside party who can coach you in an unbiased, objective way and not get swept up in your "story". 

5. Enroll the Gang

Now here's the real kicker. It's hard to go at it alone. You need a support team. See, it wasn't just me texting and calling Steve to keep him on track. We told his friends, employee, and family about his wager and they joined the cause supporting him and reminding him (also through texting and phone calls) to make it home on time.

Check out this wild stat:

The University of Pittsburgh conducted a weight loss experiment. They did one thing that other programs don’t. They made it mandatory to sign up with a friend or family member. They understood that you simply can’t go it alone. They had one group of participants signed up with 3 friends or family members and the control group sign up by themselves. After 10 months, only 24% of the group who signed up by themselves maintained the weight loss. But check this out: 66% of the "team" group successfully kept off the weight!1

Buddy up with a mentor, coach or some friends and create a support team for each other. You'll all reap the benefits many times over.

Learn our 6-step process to Master the Art of Accountability for you and your team. Download your free ebook and discover how to create a sense of accountability, ownership, and urgency.


Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman