Why It Really Matters to Align Your Words and Actions

Have you ever met one of those people who says one thing and then does the complete opposite?

We find them everywhere. In our workplaces, families, and well, just about any place where human beings gather together.

Alignment of Words and Actions

We’ve All Done It!

How about you? Do you ever check in to make sure that your words and actions are in alignment? Because let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to step off the ledge and find ourselves telling people what they should do, without even considering the fact that we never do it. Or on the flip-side, telling people what they shouldn’t do, while continuing to do that very thing ourself.

We don’t mean to do it. There’s no malice in our intent. We are not motivated by the desire to deceive people. And yet still it seems to occur. However, self-awareness always provides us with an opportunity to make positive change. In this case to identify where we need to align our espoused values with our lived actions. That can only be a good thing.

Shadow vs Light

One reason for the discrepancy between what we say and what we do is shame. The stuff we don’t like about ourselves is also the stuff we notice and sometimes even fixate on in other people.

This is played out all the time by organisations through their corporate slogans and tag lines. Companies use advertising campaigns to tell the world not to believe what they think is true about them. For example, when Wonga got slated for being little more than a legal loan shark after customers got tangled in webs of spiralling debt from the high interest rates and small print confusion. Despite having one advert banned for being misleading and irresponsible they maintained the tagline, “straight talking money”.

As long as branding can outrun the bad press, peoples’ perception of who you are is manageable.

There are obvious differences between individuals and companies, but there is still something interesting about seeing our use of language to create and alter perceptions. This reactionary approach to life is how many of us have trained to behave.

Management 3.0 – Alignment of Words and Actions

In the Management 3.0 resources Jurgen Appelo talks about leadership’s main role as being to nurture culture through values. Not just espousing values, or declaring “this is who we are”, but to bring those espoused values into alignment with enacted values. In other words to actually practice what you preach.

We are ALL leaders. Regardless of where we are in our lives, our teams, our families, etc. We are all leaders because we are all in charge of ourselves. It might sound kind of twee and a little bit like nonsense, but there is something really powerful in understanding this in a deep level way. Self-Leadership is the starting point of character, integrity, and success. It is the power to take us away from feeling like victims of our circumstances, other people, and our past.

We can lead others, set an example, and be role models of integrity and character. At the end of each day ask yourself, “how did my vision and values influence the decisions I made today?” Think of a decision you made that was not the easy option but it was the right thing to do. Remember what the stoics say. That virtue is its own reward.

You do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not for some other reward. Virtue in this sense is about becoming who you are and growing in character by aligning your values with your actions. There’s no other reason for it than it being the right thing to do. And when you spend your life aligning with the right action, you’ll keep moving towards that ultimate goal of becoming more and more of who you are.

Sound good?


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