Seneca once said, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” I agree. Most people do. Unfortunately whether on the personal or professional front so many of us agree, and then take the easy way out. We use our words rather than our actions.
How often have you proclaimed you have some belief, ethic or moral or even a talent yet you do not exercise it? How many times have you said ‘whatever you need’ to someone and if you thought about it, and they call you on it, know the ‘whatever’ is not really ‘whatever’ it is much more limited. But saying ‘whatever’ makes us feel good doesn’t it.
How many times have you said ‘if I only had this…I could do that’? And then the ‘this’ opportunity comes along and rather than pursuing ‘that’ you have a new excuse and/or new ‘if only’ in place?
Talking makes us feel good. It makes us feel productive without actually having to do anything. Talking and words allow us to contribute without having to actually contribute. It is a very easy pattern to fall into and we live in a culture that fully supports it.
I have a friend from Italy who said to me the other day “Why do Americans say ‘how are you’ when they really don’t care or wait for an answer?” Good question. Not a very nice one, but a good one. (I countered with why did the Romans drop the ball on the whole empire building thing.) And while his perspective is a little harsh, and some people do genuinely care, it is a sign of our capacity to speak without effort, propose without following up with action.
We can become so ensconced in our own lives and our own calendars that we do not always see others where they are, and even worse where we truly are as well. Obviously this is not good if you really want to pony up on all that you say you are. It is however fantastic if you want to find an excellent way to create a useless facade. As with all things, the choice is up to you.
Can you get through your work day, maybe even your entire career without doing more than talking a good game? Absolutely, it happens all the time. Can you live your life with relationships that are more on the surface fueled by talk and intention? Yes, again, most people do. The question is, is that what you truly want your life and legacy to be about?