“Our word is all that we have”
“Say what you mean and do what you say”
I’ve always been aware of these concepts. Always. But until we get it, we don’t get it.
Rewind backwards to 19 years old, I was thrown into an environment where I was surrounded by people who said what they meant, did what they said, and were true leaders of people. Those very people started calling me out. They brought a level of awareness as to what I was really like, in a way I had never experienced. They challenged me to rethink the specific words I chose to use. They challenged me to say nothing or to simply say “I don’t know” if I wasn’t ready to commit my actions to the words that just came out of my mouth.
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” -Matthew 12:37
In that same time period I was asked by a mentor of mine, “In all honesty, if you met yourself and you had to blindly trust that you were going to lead you to exactly where you wanted to go, would you follow you?”
My answer was no.
That was a brutally painfully season of my life. I was starting from a crawl but I so desperately wanted to learn to fly, and I cried so many frustrating tears for a few solid years fighting to become the person I and others could count on. The cliche sayings are simple. Almost too simple. But they are far from easy when you never had those values planted within your core being.
Fast forward to 24 years old. Within my iPhone notes theres a page that’s labeled “Times I back out on my word and disappoint myself.” There was a day in January that I did NOT want to wake up and go be somewhere that I said I would be. I laid in bed and struggled for over an hour contemplating not going. I thought about the fact that I would have to take out my phone and write that in my notes if I chose not to go. I went.
Saying what we mean and doing what we say, keeping our commitments, and acting out the words we’ve chosen to speak are the ONLY things that people can really use as data to decide whether or not they can truly count on us. That can be both liberating or terrifying.
To be clear on what I am NOT saying. I am not saying that there are no exceptions. Things happen. Things come up. What I am saying is, “Is there a pattern of inconsistency from what we say vs. what we do?”
Personally, I’m watching and listening to people all of the time. I would almost say that I’m constantly interviewing people. Not necessarily in a bad way or in a judgmental way, but in a gathering data, figuring out where they currently are, sort of way. I also know for a fact that people are doing these exact things with me, and I expect and welcome that. Below is a thought process that I go through as I’m paying attention to individual people. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong for doing so, I’m just saying that this is what I do.
- When someone uses a word that may not fit with what they’re trying to articulate I will ask them if they meant this or if they meant that, to both try and understand what they truly meant so they aren’t misunderstood, and also to challenge them to really think about what specific words they’re using, because they matter.
- When someone bails on something they said they were going to be at, I do assess what the reason was for.
- When someone does the opposite of what they said they would on a consistent basis, I red flag it as a pattern and I make a note to not count on that persons words or actions for the time being (that doesn’t mean they won’t change in the future)
- When I have a relationship with a person who is inconsistent in their actions vs. their words, I will often times confront them, give them specific examples, and give them perspective of what it can do for the receiving party. (Often times we don’t even know that we’re doing what we’re doing. I didn’t.)
- When I’m searching for solid relationships to really dive into and invest into, I search and invest into people who show great signs of consistency, who say exactly what they mean, who do exactly what they said they would, who say “I don’t know” when they don’t know, who are transparent and authentic, who see vulnerability as strength, and who are constantly course correcting themselves, very self aware, vigilant, and are hungry for growth and development.
So ya, keeping our word is crucial. It’s scary how crucial it is. But it matters. If we don’t really care whether or not others can count on us, or we don’t care about the concepts of being/attracting others with a high regard for true character and integrity, then we can throw this post out. But if we do, we have to get real with ourselves. We have to find mentors and friends who will really tell us what we’re doing, so that we can become aware and get on a path that will help us change and develop into who we really want to be.
And if we have a desire to lead other people? Well, then this is the most crucial subject out there for us! We will not lead, and people will not follow until we are exactly who we say we are.
People are incredibly intuitive beings. Let’s not assume that we can fool others. The truth always finds its way to the surface. Always.
So where are you?
Do you keep your commitments to yourself?
Do you use words loosely and assume others will just get it?
Do you bail on a consistent basis and always find an illegitimate excuse as to why you did?
Do your words really line up with your actions to a tee?