Don’t talk about it, BE about it.
Talk is like holding up an umbrella during a windstorm: it is worthless. I believe that people are who they are because of what they do, not what they say. A friend of mine always reminds me that talking about doing something is as about as productive as digging for buried treasure with a butter knife. He always tells me, “Don’t talk about it, BE about it.” To me, the phrase means that I should speak through my actions. I think it is pointless to walk through life making propositions like, “When I get the money I’m going to get this cherry-red Chevy with dual exhausts, throw in a 350- magnum engine, and all the girls are going to want a ride in it and blah-blah-blah.” In my view, the 5 minutes that it took to tell me the story was just a waste of time. If someone really wanted the truck, they would have used those 5 minutes to start looking for a job to pay for the dang thing. The way I see it, proposals are trash, promises are phony and politicians are just some of the countless people who provide prime proof. In 2003, National Defense Security Donald Rumsfeld said that he doubted the conflict in Iraq would last six months. Almost four years later, the so thought 6-month conflict is now full blown war, with no end in sight, and Rumsfeld has gotten the boot as Defense Secretary because he talked about a quick resolution but he did not make it happen.
As I have grown, my dad has taught me that actions speak louder than words. I remember numerous times when I was younger that my dad would be busy doing his work, and he would ask me to mow the lawn. I would reply, “Okay, I’ll do it in a little bit.” Hours would pass, sometimes even days, and he would remind me that I still needed to mow the lawn. “Oh, yeah, Pops, I’ll do it,” I would reply, not taking my eyes off the television. A little while later, I would hear our lawn mower revving up in our front yard and I would look to see my dad outside doing the job that I was supposed to do. I would feel bad because I said I would do it, but I did not follow through. Instead of continuously asking me to mow the lawn, punishing me, or yelling at me, my dad just did the job himself.
Little lessons like that have taught me that talk is cheap. Might as well save your breath and just get to work, because as people, we are who we are because of what we do, not what we say.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.