Have you ever wondered what the difference between peer pressure and accountability is? Lately I’ve been doing things I don’t want to do because someone has strongly encouraged me to. I found out that one of my favorite exercise classes at the Y takes place at the same time as my kids’ gymnastics lessons. It’s an incredibly convenient way to get in a good workout. It doesn’t mean I really want to change into my workout clothes and actually do exercise. However, just because an acquaintance mentioned she saw me at the class before and was looking forward to seeing me last night, I made myself go.
Peer pressure or accountability?
In order for something to be accountability, three requirements must be met. First, there has to be permission granted. If I communicate to you that I’m okay with you reminding me of my exercise plans, you are holding me accountable. If you grab my donut from me just because I said I want to lose some weight, you’d better run.
Secondly, there has to be a relationship. I can’t expect you to know me well enough to hold me accountable if we’re casual friends. When we know each other better, we know what motivates the other. Some people are motivated by attention, others by respect, acceptance, or performance.
Thirdly, the motive for someone mentioning that you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a week has to be for your benefit. It can’t be to tease you, humiliate you, or try to get you to buy a used treadmill. True accountability partners seek the best for one another, even when it’s not easy to say.
Without these three things, your friends are just trying to pressure you, especially when it’s for their benefit, not yours. Peer pressure can be for good or for evil. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, to really grow, a few accountability partners can really make a difference.
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