Updated: Nov 1, 2019
"Walking the talk", "practicing what we preach" are common clichés in business and in life. Here is a cool story -
A woman approached Gandhi and said, 'Master, tell my boy to stop eating sugar." Gandhi looked at the chubby six-year-old boy and replied, "Bring him to me again in four weeks' time." The woman was surprised but did as she was told. Four weeks later, she brought the boy again. Gandhi looked at him forcefully and said, "Stop eating sugar." "Why didn't you tell him that a month ago?" the woman asked. "Because four weeks ago I myself was eating sugar."
If you are a leader or parent or teacher, or coach (anyone who wants to influence or have others follow) etc., it is important to remember this concept and the story. People follow those they trust and whose behaviour and actions are congruent.
Kids, students, players, employees they notice everything. Especially the things we don't think they will. If we want to influence and to lead then we need to "walk the talk". We've all seen how not doing so can go massively and painfully wrong - sportsmen, politicians, actors or anyone in the public eye that presents themselves in one way and then behaves in another. The fallout is uncomfortable for everybody. The same is true for what we might see as the smallest of inconsistencies - we lose their trust, they rebel or just switch off.
Our thoughts and actions occur within a frame of reference. A frame of reference unique to each of us because it is based on our beliefs, values, experiences, culture etc. Our actions include the things we do (or not) and the language we use as well.
When we make a decision about the advice we want to give or how we want to influence someone or something we do so based on our experience, knowledge and skills i.e. our frame of reference. The recipient of that advice or direction does the same thing in deciding what they will do with what they hear and see from you only it’s based on their own frame of reference.
Who do you want to be? Do you want to be the person that gives out advice and directions they don’t believe in enough to do it themselves OR do you want to walk your talk and be a role model?
Sometimes it's not easy to do, I remind myself that trust is easy to lose and much harder to regain then it is to retain.
“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.” ~ Confucius
Strongly linked to 'walking the talk' as a way of building trust is our ability to make good decisions and been consistent with our decision-making read more...