This blog post is dedicated to those who have leaned into the characteristic of accountability to grow this movement (Read: November Project) that we are lucky to have.
According to Meriam-Webster’s dictionary, accountability is defined as the quality or state of being accountable: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
We (Read: what I hear / am told on the regular) have come to known November Project as a young, FUN, and kind fitness movement. These attributes are great and definitely add to the culture. AND (Yes, I said it) there’s more to it than that.
Or at least, there used to be…
AND maybe, just maybe, it still exists.
Let’s paint the picture:
You’ve just shown up to one of the 49 different locations on a Wednesday morning to get in a workout that is FREE and ALL-LEVELS.
What do you do first?
A. Hug / Hi-five your tribe (Read: local group) leader (Read: person(s) responsible for creating said weekly workout(s) for that tribe)
B. Hug / Hi-five your BFF Jill (or Jack)
C. Talk to the first person you see, give a head nod, take off some extra gear or layers, and drink some water.
D. Hug / Hi-five / Say hi to someone you don’t know.
E. All of the above.
Take the quiz.
(SPOILER ALERT: If your answer does not include D. Hug / Hi-five / Say hi to someone you don’t know, you have failed the quiz)
That’s right, I said it.
“But Sierra, I was reallllllly tired and getting to the workout was hard enough.”
I get that. I do. I’ve been there. There being where I’ve shown up to a workout: exhausted, hungover, recently broke up with a boyfriend, gotten in a fight with my sister the night before, “LEFT THE GAS ON” (if you know this reference, get AT me), the “roof collapsed” at work yesterday, or anything that could have happened prior to the workout and CHOSE to bring that energy. Smoothered it on my friends and mentally put consistent thought to it.
Guess what? Those mornings, because I was so focused on me, I actually didn’t get the full experience simply because I kept spreading around my negativity. And in turn, those around me had to carry it right along with me. And sometimes, that’s where you’re at. That’s okay. This group will do their best to support you and get you through it. But when are we taking more from the group than we are giving in return? Oof.
Where’s the fine line? Beats me. But I know that the decision to share my “blah” constantly inhibited me from connecting with those around me, resulting in Wednesday morning opportunities wasted.
Ok, next question:
Another Wednesday, another workout. You show up promptly for your city’s workout at 6:15 AM. The tribe starts to show up, coming out from the shadows via foot, bike, train, boat, helicopter, razor scooter, skateboard, hover board, maybe a 1963 Pontiac Temptest
The workout starts about 7.5 minutes late.
What reaction (if any) does this cause in you:
A. Smoke is STREAMING from your ears.
B. Sarcastic comments to the leaders for the remainder of the workout.
D. You didn’t even notice.
E. Actually, you were running late and now think that no one else will notice.
Think about this one for awhile. How would you have answered this today? How will you answer it next week? How have you been answering it for the last 52 Wednesday’s?
Is there a pattern of consistency?
Does it vary? If so, how often?
Do you let your leaders know?
This one is a semi-confession for me, and for those who know me well, I am a recovering “ON TIME” human. I’ve had two times in my life where people called me on it (that I vividly remember), read below:
In high school, my brother drove me to school. We were fortunate to have a kids car, a truck no less, that we were held responsible to wash, fill up the gas tank, complete any chores that involved the bed of the truck, and in return – drive ourselves to and from school, even use on the weekends. At my high school, there were diliquencies that led to detention and one of them fell under the criteria of, “Late to Homeroom.” I consistently had been making my brother late as he would drop me off at the front steps, to sprint up those stairs and the next two or so flights to make it jusssst in time, while he had to go park the car. One day, he did the typical shout up the stairs, “Leaving in 5 minutes!” – call, that I’d often hear and respond with, “I’ll be right down!” Minutes later, “I’m getting in the car!” – to which I’d reply, “Coming!”
That day he left. All these angry reactions spilled out, revolving around how could he do this to ME. But actually, I had been making him late and not valuing his time.
Another time took place in a setting that is similar to most Wednesday mornings. Long before John Combs held the reigns to November Project Philly, he was a mere tribesmember who just so happened to be part of a group of us getting mileage on the Ben Franklin Bridge on Monday mornings. We’d meet at City Hall starting around 6 AM or so with a prompt 6:10 AM departure time to ensure the majority of us could run the distance to, at, and from the bridge to make it back in time to get to work.
One week, I had given a #verbal the night before for the bridge in the morning. That morning, I got distracted / didn’t set my alarm early enough / forgot my keys / scrolled through Instagram too long…and was running late. The group was waiting, even gave me some buffer time, but John was the one who made the decision to keep the group moving and to leave without me.
“But Sierra, that’s so mean that he left you behind! He could’ve just waited a little bit longer or gone ahead of the group?!”
Sure, anonymous rebuttal, he could have done that. And, by him being willing to accept responsibility for my action it allowed me to realize the actions I choose that morning and to be held accountable for being late.
Okay okay, last item for this topic before I step off my virtual soap box:
Again, it’s a Wednesday in some city around the world. The night before, you’re picking out your gear for the workout the next morning (PRO TIP if you’re a chronic “On Timer” that still needs to shave down minutes, trust me) and you’re setting your alarm, but suddenly remember that we had HW to recruit other humans to the workout.
Which best describes your actions leading up to that moment?
A. I’ve been gabbing all week, posting on social media, even told my (HUMAN RELATION) about it who HATES how much I already obsess over November Project – and have followed up with them to confirm they are showing up in the morning via text / DM / carrier pigeon.
B. I told my co-worker who had asked me if I knew of any early morning workout groups close to where we live.
C. I was having a conversation with my favorite (bartender, accountant, nurse, photographer, INSERT OCCUPATION HERE) about why I was sore and it just so happened to be from the workout I had done yesterday morning.
D. SH%T! I COMPLETELY FORGOT. I’ll quick tag a friend on Facebook / Instagram with a reminder to at least say I’ve done it before tomorrow.
E. Oh yeah, that was a thing. Oh well, I know people will be there tomorrow.
Which one are you? Again, this is to bring awareness on what you have been doing up to this point—NOT a judgement. You alone know where you’re at in this moment in time, what you value and what efforts you are able to make. And, could you be more consistent? Could you be doing more?
For me, this one is the weirdest / best of all. First off, I got to learn how to recruit from my good friend Beth (Hi Beth) who would tell every person she interacted with during a day. Not always, but almost. Random stranger? Check. Waiter at a restaurant? Check. At work? Check check. She had no qualms talking about it and she is what you would call—an extroverted human. Not everyone has this strength and that’s okay. And have you thought about what quality YOU possess that is a strength that allows you to connect with the world around you? Have you considered that you could single-handedly find a way to get 20 people to show up to a workout just because it’s your birthday and your friends see how much joy this group has brought you? (Shout out to Kevin’s friends for that morning, good stuff right there)
So, I’ll leave you with this. If there’s a will, there’s a way. And if you believe in the dream, there’s a damn good chance that if you keep talking about it and putting in the effort and enrolling others in it, you CAN acheive the goal. My dream is that Brooklyn continues to grow, finds new ways to give back to our community while becomming fitter humans on Wednesday mornings, althewhile connecting others who would otherwise never cross paths.
For November Project sustainability, we ALL need to:
– keep the tribe(s) connected.
– keep the tribe(s) thriving.
– keep the tribe(s) growing.
If we all do that, November Projecg can and will continue to create change locally to impact the world globally (WOAH). I do not want to imagine a world where November Project ceases to exist. As one of my favorite teachers would say, LIFE IS EPHEMERAL. And this part of my life, IS good.
Has CREATED good.
And, for me, has only just begun to SPREAD good.
So do your HW, folks.
P.S. Next week, Maggie and I have a little “accountability announcement” around recruiting that we’re declaring and will be sharing with you in Brooklyn. You might want to hear that one in person…
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