As we express our gratitude we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Have you ever met someone who epitomized the term, “walk the talk?” Maybe it was a boss who treated everyone fairly or someone who lived their religious beliefs. Those people we admire often demonstrate a great deal of personal integrity. Their actions match their words.
But maybe you also know people who talk the talk…but don’t walk it. That is, they give lip service to certain beliefs and values without living them. When actions belie a person’s beliefs, we tend to think of them as hypocritical.
It happens a lot in politics, of course, and also in some organized religions. It’s no longer shocking to learn that a minister who exhorts his flock to be chaste is actually fooling around. Or that an arch-conservative who ran a campaign on family values is living a lie.
But in our own every-day lives, most often we encounter this kind of hypocrisy in organizations we’ve worked in, especially those that espouse certain values.
A friend who works here in Silicon Valley was telling me the other night that her company’s written values include “honesty.”
“But nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “If I were really honest, I wouldn’t last a day there.”
I’ve worked in companies like that, organizations that invested time, effort and money in developing a set of values that management failed to demonstrate. When management doesn’t walk the talk how could employees be expected to?
Parents know from raising children that if they don’t act in accordance with the values they teach, their children will be the first to call them on it.
Talk is cheap—what really counts is what we do. If we’re in leadership positions—management, for example, or as a parent—it’s especially important to act in accordance with our words. It’s called leading by example, and there seems to be less of it these days. But it’s a healthy way to live every part of our life.
Isn’t that really what the Golden Rule is all about? Treating others as we would like to be treated sounds so simple, but we don’t see enough of it in our world.
I admit—it’s sometimes hard to live the high standards we espouse, at least for most of us. But it’s harder when we don’t.
When we come from a place of wholeness, where actions and words are integrated, our lives are happier and more fulfilled. We’re more at ease in the world.
I’ve already answered that question for myself, thinking of a few of my online friends who are doing amazing things for the world and who epitomize living holistically. They teach me every day.
Here’s a thought for today: Who do you know that walks the talk in a meaningful way—and what can we learn from them? Feel free to share in the Comments section.
Carol Cassara is a writer and ordained minister who believes in living fully in every color of the rainbow. Her essays have appeared in Skirt! magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, on public radio and other venues. After a long career as a corporate communications executive, she is enjoying having more time to write, travel and just enjoy life. When she's not traveling the world, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and crazy little maltipoo. Her daily blog inspirations for creating our best lives can be found at www.carolcassara.com.