WALKING THE TALK
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
Lately I had quite a number of conversations around the concept of walking-the-talk. If this sounds too formal or cliché, you can replace it with something else like "sticking to your commitments", "doing what you said you would do", "acting according to your values" and the synonym constructs might continue. What made these conversations interesting was not the matter of walking-the-talk per-se (sooner or later), but the perception of walking-the-talk while not walking-the-talk.
Have I managed to confuse you already? Good, then let's drill into.
There are situations when we mistake the outcome of something we do with the journey to achieve it. Let's define journey as the series of consequent decisions and actions you are undertaking in order to drive mentioned outcome. For example, let's consider buying bread. The objective/outcome is to own the bread but the journey to get there includes some decisions (such as where to buy bread from, what means of transportation to use, what is the route you want to take to the store, what other actions you might want to complete to achieve some parallel objectives etc) and some actions (such as walking/driving to the store, sitting in a queue, paying for the bread and so on). When putting this in action, the outcome is that I can own a bread after I walk to the closest store, choose the type of bread I want and pay for it with my credit card. Alternatively, I can own a bread after I drive towards a store, stop at a gas station to fill the tank up, then find an ATM nearby to get cash and pay with it. In both examples the end result was me owning bread. So, is there any difference between them, since, after all, I changed something but achieved the same result?
Presumably the 1st alternative gives me the opportunity to obtain the outcome of owning bread in a shorter timeframe, while in the 2nd example I managed to achieve something on the side (filling up the tank) arguably at the cost of some time. So, while this might appear as being the same (owning bread), the outcomes are completely different for the two examples:
. the outcome in the 1st example: own bread, short timeframe;
. the outcome in the 2nd example: own bread, fill up the tank, longer timeframe.
All-in-all, it seems I mistook an outcome (full tank) for an action (filling up the tank). And, since there were different actions in the two mentioned journeys, in my mind I built the idea that I obtained the same result with tow different approaches.
Let's pause here for a couple of minutes and reflect on how many times we have heard something similar. Affirmations such as: ”I tried to do that, but I was not getting anywhere", "I did and it does not work", "I went back to how I did it before”, ”I did achieve what I said I would”, to name just a few. In such situations it is important to give ourselves time to reflect and put all the terms and our perspectives where they belong.
The important thing now is to understand what I did with the two instances above and what terms I mistook.
I intentionally gave the above examples from the "personal-side" of our lives. But what happens when we move into the "professional-side"? If we consider that we can take time to reflect with our own endeavors, can we say the same about our professional ones between several projects and tight deadlines?
The success of a chosen endeavor is determined by the level of understanding of each involved term (outcome, actions, journey) which then drives understanding of what are the implications of changing something along the way. This understanding generates the ability to walk-the-talk and removes the perception of doing it. The perception kicks-in when the communication is not handled correctly.
There are some things that are up to each and every one of us: clarify as much as humanly possible: expectations, context, definitions of terms, what is important for each involved party, any secondary objectives and the list could continue. Some others are up to 3rd parties such as leaders, peers, team members etc. However, we can only tackle what is up to us and do our part.
In coaching one of the prime value propositions is connected to you building the ability to separate terms, define what is important to you, understand implications and act upon where you need to. Drop me a note to explore this.