Do What You Say & Say What You Do

  • Do What You Say & Say What You Do:
    How To Align Words and Actions To Achieve Results

We’ve all experienced it – with ourselves and with others – those instances when what is said and what is done just doesn’t line up. And when it happens its damaging. It damages credibility and erodes trust – in ourselves and with others. So what can you do to remedy the situation? Unfortunately it’s not as easy as saying, “Do what I say – not what I do.”

Here are seven keys to bringing what we do into alignment with what we say. Implement these keys to bring your own actions into alignment with your words, to help your team align their actions with their words, or to create a culture where your entire organization is taking action on the goals you’ve set.

Identify the Cause

There are a lot of reasons individuals, teams and organizations fail to take the actions they say they are going to take. Some of these include:

  • Lack of commitment
  • A belief that it is not possible
  • Competing priorities
  • The action is not aligned with values
  • A habit is driving the behavior

The solutions, when there is a lack of commitment, is different, for example, than when the problems results from competing priorities. Therefore, the first step is isolating the cause.

Get Clear on the Desired Outcome

If the desired outcome is not clear to everyone that needs to participate in making it happen, the necessary actions won’t be clear either. Fuzzy outcomes lead to fuzzy actions. Help people see what is possible if the desired actions are taken (this is the pretty picture of the future). And what is probable if there is not change (this is the not so rosy picture of what the future holds given the current course).

Clean-up Your Language

I don’t mean get rid of the curse words (although you may want to do that as well). Our words drive our thinking and our thinking drives our actions. The words we use and the questions we ask ourselves and others create a focus and set a direction. Here are three words you may want to eliminate or greatly reduce the use of and words you can use instead.

  • Replace “but” with “and”
    • “You have a point but I can see Jim’s point.” vs
    • “You have a point and I can see Jim’s point.”
  • Replace “should” with “want to _______ because”
    • “I should make those follow-up calls.” vs
    • “I want to make those follow-up calls because I really want to make my goal this month.”
  • Replace “I am going to” with “I am”
    • “I am going to launch a new service this year.” vs
    • “I am launching a new service this year.”

For more ideas on ways to change your language and achieve greater results download our Free ebook: Leader-Language™: How To Choose Your Words To Get The Results You Want (without sounding pushy, passive or pompous)

Take a “Big Gulp” Action

A “Big Gulp” Action is an action that is designed to get attention and signal ourselves, our team, and the Universe that we are serious. What constitutes a “Big Gulp” action varies from person to person and from situation to situation. However, generally there will be a high level of anxiety at the thought of taking the action and right after you take the action you will ask, “Holy cow, what did I just do? (And you probably won’t say “cow”!)

Make One (Small) Change

Don’t try to change everything at once. Make one change – often it just needs to be a small change – to get the ball rolling. For example, research shows that keeping a food journal just one day a week leads to a reduction in weight.

If you need a change in your team’s behavior or are making an organizational change, isolate the one thing that needs to happen right now to move you one step closer to your desired outcome and focus on changing that one behavior.

Make it a Habit

Habits drive a lot (maybe even most) of the actions we take every day. There’s a good reason for this. It is a matter of survival. If we had to consciously make a decision about every action we take every day our brains would explode! We develop habits so we don’t have to make decisions about those things we do on a routine basis. The key is to be intentional in the habits we form and the routines we help our teams develop. There is a lot of research on creating and changing habits. A good place to start is by reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and In Business by Charles Duhigg.

Build Your Willpower Muscle

Research has shown that one of the keys to staying on course towards a goal when we hit a roadblock or barrier is to identify the potential barriers ahead of time and develop a written plan for dealing with each one. Combine this with the technique of zooming out to see the bigger picture when you come up against a barrier and you have the keys to supercharging your self-discipline and willpower

Next time you find yourself or your team talking about what you are going to do yet not taking action, implement just one or two of the strategies above. You will be amazed at how quickly your words and actions will begin to align and the results you will achieve as a consequence of this alignment.

Want more tips and resources to help you dissolve barriers to business success by unlocking the potential of your people and harnessing the power of teamwork? Read more about team development or sign-up to receive our monthly Blog post.

  • Are you frustrated because your team too frequently fails to take action on the plans you’ve established?
  • Do you want to help your team develop the habits necessary to create real results?
  • Would you like to create a culture where words and actions are aligned?

Explore how we might be able to help. Email Julie at; call her at 972-701-9311; or connect with Julie at

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POSTED ON: Strategy and Vision