WALK YOUR TALK
TRANSFORMATIONAL QUESTION: Am I willing to show up, even if it is hard?
Walking your talk means that you can be trustedto show up when and where you say you will. Others can rely on you. They know that you will follow through.
There was a time when business was done by a handshake and you could rely on someone when s/he gave you her word. This created trust and confidence and enabled people to function easily and effectively.
Today, we have moved a long way from that. We are suspicious of the motives of others. We doubt more than we trust. We are pessimistic about the capacity of others to show up and do what they promise to do. We are not even sure that we can show up.
A world where commitments are often broken and people cannot trust each other to show up is a tough world to live in. Order is hard to find. Bonding between people doesn’t happen easily. Loyalty is rare. How can you live and do business in a world like that?
You and I have a choice. We can decide if we are willing to walk our talk and do what we say we will do. We can show by our actions that we can be trusted and others can count on us. We can decide if we want to be the trustworthy friend, co-worker or marriage partner we would like to be.
Today words are cheap. People say a lot of things that they don’t mean. They make promises that they don’t deliver on.
They disappoint others. They disappoint themselves. Don’t be that kind of person. Use the spiritual practice in this chapter as a tool to help you stay present and committed to the people and causes that are important to you. Use it to build trust and to continue to be a man or woman of your word.
When you ask the transformational question “Am I willing to show up, even if it is hard? ” you remind yourself that you
have a choice in every moment. You decide not just once or twice, but hundreds of times every week.
Grandiosity Vs Realism
Some people talk “bigger” than they are. They make grandiose plans they can’t implement and inflated promises that they
cannot keep. After a while, other people realize that they are bullshit artists. They talk pretty. They know how to sell people,
how to raise their expectations, how to pump people up.
Unfortunately for others, they cannot deliver. The bubble bursts. The hot air leaks out of the balloon and it comes back
to earth completely deflated. Other people are disappointed. They may even get mad.
Don’t be a bullshit artist. Don’t puff yourself up and make promises you cannot keep. See your grandiosity before others
become victims of it. Ask yourself “Can I really deliver on this or am I inflating expectations? Am I making big promises to
get people’s attention? Am I talking big and walking small?”
If so, scale down your talk and beef up your walk. Promise less. Deliver more. Offer folks a small hamburger and then
show up with a half-pound burger. Exceed expectations. Give more than you promise to give. Then you will inspire
confidence. People will look forward to seeing you. Instead of saying “Here comes the bullshit artist,” they will say
“Here comes the guy with the great burgers.”
You don’t want people to ask “Where’s the beef?” every time they see you. Show them the beef. Feed them well and
they will love you and respect you. Your reputation will grow and so will your business. Don’t be the kind of person who
disappoints others. Nothing good can come of it.
The best cure for any bullshit artist is: “Keep your mouth shut. Lead with your actions, not with your words. Show that you are serious. Eventually, people will start paying attention.
Don’t look for approval. Don’t take the credit, no matter how badly you want it. Just show up and do what needs to be done. Chop wood, carry water. Volunteer in the soup kitchen. Be humble and contribute. Do your part without calling attention to yourself. Give without expectation of return.
When you give from the heart, you set the process of genuine abundance in motion. People respect how you keep showing up and they start to appreciate you. The energy and momentum grow and eventually return to you. You get the appreciation you want, but now you have earned it.
In the past, you talked big, but you couldn’t put your money where your mouth was. Now you say less and do more. Now your actions speak louder than your words.
What Kind of Walk Do You Have?
Some people are in a big hurry. They have large agenda and try so hard to get things done that they don’t enjoy their walk
very much. They rarely have time to sit in the garden and notice that the rain has deepened the color of the grass or that
the flowers are blooming. Their walk is stressful. They may even be workaholics.
Other people have little motivation in life. They sit in the garden with a joint or a bottle of wine and the only walking they do is the short distance from their apartment to the garden. Sometimes they don’t even make it out of their apartment.
These are two extremes. Neither one is healthy.
What is your walk like? Is it hectic and stressful, or lazy and bored? Do you jump out of bed right into the rat race, or do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning?
People who work too much or too little are driven by childhood wounds. Usually they lack self-esteem. Either they believe they can’t do and don’t even try or they believe they have to do it and do it out of duty or sacrifice.
The best way to learn to walk is to take baby steps. Most people with low self-esteem don’t know how to do this. They
often have grandiose ideas. They try to run before they learn to walk and fall flat on their faces. This self-defeating pattern
simply reinforces their low self-esteem and keeps them locked in a cycle of failure. These individuals need to learn to set
and achieve realistic, short-term goals. They need to learn to crawl before they will learn to walk.
Those who try to prove their self-worth by working incessantly and/or by being caretakers for others have a different lesson. They are often very successful at first because they know how to show up. They motor right through the baby steps and in no time are running full stride. But they don’t know how to get off the merry-go-round. They get hooked on the ride and stay on it until they are thrown off. Even then, after licking their wounds at home for a few days, they get right back on the ride. They are gluttons for punishment.
They need to stop whirling around getting dizzy and stressed out. They need to center and take some time for themselves. When they look within, they realize that they are not really happy because they are not doing what they want to do. They are living in sacrifice and seeking the love and approval of others.
Both the underachiever and the overachiever have to learn to take baby steps. Both need to tune into what feels right and begin to take small steps toward it. Neither one has developed a solid walk in life.
Learning to Walk
Here are some simple rules for learning to walk.
- Decide what your goal is or where you want to go.
- Take baby steps toward it.
- If you fall down, crawl forward until you can lift yourself back up.
- Stay focused on your goal and keep walking or crawling until you reach it.
- If you can’t reach it, set a more realistic goal.
- When you reach your goal, set a new goal.
- Walk with a little more confidence. Build momentum.
- When you are good at reaching short term goals, set longer term ones.
- Stay focused and grounded. Build on your success.
I know these rules probably sound too simplistic to you. But I have to tell you these are the rules followed by happy and successful people. If you are not happy and successful you are probably not following the rules.
Connecting Your Talk and Your Walk
Connecting your talk and your walk helps you to become congruent and empowered. If you watch children grow up,
you will see that they try to talk before they learn to walk. That’s okay. It’s good practice. But you don’t really begin to
take a kid seriously until the talk and the walk get hooked up.
When the kid knows how to say “ice cream pop,” crawls to the refrigerator and opens the door — when you realize
there might be some other things in there he might like to sample, like a bottle of vinegar or schnapps — that’s when
you know the talk and the walk are connected. As soon as that happens, you better watch out.
Connecting the talk and the walk is powerful. Parents have to get a handle on things early on. They need to establish safe
limits and boundaries before the kid grows up and asks for the keys to the car.
When we start to walk our talk, we begin to have a real impact on our environment. Our will goes into motion. We become active creators of our own life.
If this does not happen — if we learn to talk but not to walk — it is a great tragedy. We don’t get to understand or fulfill our life purpose.
It is also a tragedy when we walk a talk that isn’t true and end up in a destination that is at odds with our purpose. Some people spend a lifetime doing a job that really belongs to someone else. That’s sad.
To really walk your talk, you must know who you are and what you want. You must set realistic goals and move steadily
toward them. When you experience difficulties you must learn to push through them. You can’t give up just because an obstacle arises or things don’t show up the way you wantthem to.
You must be patient and focused. You must persevere in the face of difficulty. You must honor your commitments and show up when and where you say you will. People must be able to rely on you. You must cultivate trust, respect and loyalty.
I am not saying that this is easy to do. It isn’t. But this is what is necessary if you want to understand your purpose and
fulfill it. Unless you are willing to show up no matter what, your dreams cannot come true.
Using the Transformational Question
The transformational question: “Am I willing to show up, even when it is hard? ” helps us understand that sometimes life
is going to challenge us. Sometimes our goals are not easily achieved. We have to go out and beat bushes to find dinner.
We can’t just sit back and wait for it to be served to us on a silver platter.
Sometimes you have to deal with unexpected obstacles and challenges. If you are unwilling to be patient and work
diligently for what you want, chances are you will not create it. All your excuses won’t help you. If you don’t show up, your
vote cannot be counted.
Be aware of your resistance when it comes up. There are times when you simply won’t feel like showing up. Maybe
you will be tired or depressed or need to be distracted. You won’t want to go to class, or work, or that charity event with
your spouse. You will give anything to be taken off the hook.
The question is “Can you show up then, when you don’t want to?” That‘s the fifty million dollar question. It’s easy to
show up when you want to. It’s when you don’t want to that you are tested. And passing that test is critical.
I remember one cold, windy night when I was living in Santa Fe, I did not feel like going to my Affinity Group. I wanted to stay in front of the fireplace and watch the football game. I thought of calling up one of the group members and asking him to facilitate for me. But then I realized that my resistance was up and I needed to push through it. So I put on my winter coat and went out the door.
Well, that was the best Affinity Group I ever experienced. The sharing was so heartfelt and authentic it just melted my heart.
I knew that I was in my right place. And I was glad that I had the willpower to honor my commitment. If I had not been willing to do that, I would have missed an important experience. I would have betrayed myself and let other people down.
Of course, I understand that there are times when one simply can’t keep a commitment and must be honest with people
about it. But this was not one of those times. This was a time when I had a choice whether or not to keep my commitment.
That choice was a telling one. It was a defining moment.
You will have those moments too, moments when you are challenged, when your resistance comes up and you don’t
want to show up and fulfill the commitments you have made. And those will be defining moments for you too.
Every one of us is tested. Sometimes we pass the test. Sometimes we don’t. Hopefully, when we don’t, we do not give up, but learn from our mistakes and renew our vows. Hopefully, we re-commit to the goals and relationships that are really important to us. Hopefully, we learn to show up for ourselves and others.
You can’t be on a spiritual path if you are always making excuses for why you can’t show up. You can’t be a spiritual student if you aren’t willing to learn to walk your talk. And you can’t be a model for others if you don’t keep your commitments. Your word must be like gold. People must be able to trust what you say and know that it is congruent with what you do.
A great teacher is patient and humble. She takes the time she needs to learn to walk. She doesn’t make a lot of promises
to others, but instead shows up consistently. Her deeds and words are congruent. Yet her walk is always stronger than her
talk. She does not call attention to herself but instead gives the credit to others. People are happy to be with her because
her light is bright and her heart is open. She is an uplifting presence in their lives.
Important Things to Remember
- You get to decide whether or not to keep your word and fulfill the promises that you make. You decide whether
you are trustworthy or not. No one else can force you to show up when you don’t want to.
- Watch out for grandiosity. It is insincere and misleading. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Scale down the talk
and beef up the walk. Promise less. Deliver more.
- The question is: “Can you show up when you don’t want to?” That‘s the fifty million dollar question. It’s easy to
show up when you want to. It’s when you don’t want to that you are tested.
- You can’t be on a spiritual path if you are always making excuses for why you can’t show up. You can’t be a spiritual
student if you aren’t willing to learn to walk your talk. And you can’t be a model for others if you don’t keep