We’ve all heard the phrase, “You are what you do, not what you say.” This universal principle makes sense when we look outwardly, but we often fail to apply it when we look at ourselves. People often make promises with good intentions but don’t actually have the follow through to commit to what they’re saying.
Saying you will do something isn’t enough; you have to show up. We’ve all promised our spouse we’d do the dishes or run an errand that we didn’t do, and we all know that turned out poorly. But our spouses aren’t the only ones we should be accountable to: it’s important to be accountable to ourselves.
When you don’t do what you say, you’re not just letting others down. Odds are, you’re not acting in alignment with the person you truly want to be. People will lose their trust in you, question your character, and stop extending help or work to you because of your unreliability, even if you have good intentions.
We all know that one person who always says they’re going to show up and never does. As an outsider, you stop inviting them to things, stop having expectations for them, and won’t go out of your way to show up for them, either. Are those the types of relationships you want to have?
I didn’t think so! I’m going to walk you through how to stop this trend of character assasination. Below are my top three strategies to stop “saying” and start doing.
- Write down the character traits you want to have.
Start by writing down the character traits you want to exemplify in your life. Whether that’s to be reliable, trustworthy, kind, thoughtful, hardworking, or whatever… put them all down on paper. Next, identify which character traits you feel confident in and which ones could use a little work. Maybe you’re really diligent about getting work done on time, but you’re agitated and rude to everyone around you.
Once you’ve identified these areas you’d like to improve on, choose one to focus on for a day, and see if you can maintain it. For example, if you want to be kinder, act for one day as though you already have kindness. Reflect on the different choices you had to make in order to execute that trait and what it would take for you to consistently make those choices. Enhancing your emotional intelligence is the first step to going from talking to walking.
Being conscious of your choices on a day-to-day basis will improve your awareness, empathy, and ability to communicate the character traits you want to exemplify. These things don’t happen overnight but are maintained through constant effort and practice!
- Ask someone how they see you.
Even when we try to take an honest look at ourselves, we still get bogged down by personal bias, the kind of person we want to be but aren’t, and all the little justifications we make for our poor decisions. It’s important to get an objective opinion from an outside point of view. Ask someone who knows you well to describe or create a list of your top three personality traits.
The people around us tend to have a more candid perception of who we really are. They don’t see the person we want to be in the back of our heads, they see us for the person we actually are. Take this list, and independently verify if you think this analysis is accurate. If so, are those the top three traits you want people to see when they think of you?
If not, compare it to the character traits you want to have, and make a plan to change them. Start by making small changes in your day-to-day life that align with the person you want to be. Whether that’s showing up on time, doing what you say you’re going to do right away, or simply being more empathetic to people around you.
- Identify the difference between your intentions and your actual impact.
More often than not, part of the problem is poor communication. When we don’t have open and honest conversation about expectations and our end objective, things get misconstrued and someone often gets hurt. Have you ever tried to “help” your wife in the kitchen and she expresses later that you’re not helping, you’re just in her way?
This can happen at work, with friends, and even with our own goals. Reflect on the times this has happened and what adjustments needed to be made in order to resolve that situation. Sometimes we think we’re being patient, honest, kind, or understanding, but it isn’t coming across that way.
Take an honest look at your actions and how they could be potentially miscommunicated to the people around you. Ask those people what you could do to better express those feelings in a way that they can actually receive. Sometimes the way we perceive something isn’t the way others see it.
If you’re tired of being misunderstood and not getting the results you want, take an honest look at the choices you’re making and how they impact those around you. Even when we have good intentions, being emotionally inept can keep us from properly portraying those emotions.
Take an honest look at the character traits you’re portraying and how they’re impacting the people around you. Once you do this, you’ll have all the tools you need to walk in the character traits you want to have!
Ready to be the man you were created to be, for you and everyone around you?