Walking the Talk

Have you ever had one of those ‘practice what you preach’ moments? Where you realise you need to walk the talk to have any impact?

I have those moments with my children more regularly than I might like to admit – and funnily enough I found myself realising this applied to my work recently too. I preach the importance of focus and strategic priorities on a regular basis, about three months ago I realised that I wasn’t implementing this in my own life.

By targeting three specific priorities for the quarter (connecting with my kids, elevating my business and getting marathon-ready) I had the conviction and intention to make trade-offs on other important things that needed to just tick over in the meantime. The outcome: my friends, husband and house are a little neglected, and will need to hit the priority list this quarter. But in the meantime, I’ve never been closer to my teenage daughter, business is going gangbusters and I’m totally prepared (touch wood) to run my first 42.2 in 3 weeks time. Turns out it works – and I probably should have started practicing what I preach earlier!

The thing is, as I find with my kids, and you will find with your team – all the visions, objectives and strategic priorities in the world don’t have any power unless we lead from the front and walk the talk. On that note, while I don’t agree with half the stuff that comes out of Gary Vaynerchuk’s mouth, but I do like this quote: “Ideas are shit, execution is the game.”

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”   - Epictetus

What does this mean on an organisational level? It means that priorities need to be translated and embedded operationally – with non-aligned activities, policies and processes changed. For Councils this might mean taking your external priorities around lifestyle and community and making this a priority internally – allowing flexible work, or promoting volunteerism. Prioritising the environment? Take a look at your current sustainability policies.

I know that saying no all the time can seem like a negative thing– but the reality couldn’t be more different. Saying no to things that aren’t your priorities is positive, and freeing. But again - while this is all well and  good at the strategic level, this is challenging when we look at operations. 

What needs to go, for you to be truly walking the talk? For me, this meant late nights came off the agenda, nagging my teenager has been eliminated  minimised  reduced somewhat... and admin tasks have been outsourced. For your organisation, this might mean re-evaluating committee and working group involvement, taking projects off the work programme or changing key policies. For you personally, this might mean reviewing your diary to see how your time spend aligns with priorities.

Walking the talk isn’t just about executing strategy – it’s about coherence, leadership and integrity. Or as Epictetus said much better “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

How To...  Walk the Talk

  • Take a look at how you are spending your time and attention

  • Consider which activities do not align with your priorities

  • Replace these projects, commitments and expenses with items that do align