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Closing the Say/Do Gap

TIGNUM Thoughts

February 8th, 2020
By Scott Peltin and Rob Lively

When you look at leading yourself, building relationships, creating a strong marriage, being a great friend or parent, being an inspiring leader, executing a strategy as a team, or almost any other situation where you want to Rule Your Impact, there is a common element. Belief can be clustered into a few different areas, all of which must be developed. These include:

  • _belief in yourself
  • _belief in your teammates (partner, friends, colleagues, etc.)
  • _belief in your leader
  • _belief in the strategy (vision of what success looks like)

All of these key critical areas of belief are built on action, consistency, courage, and communication. Together, these things build trust, and trust is a vital ingredient of belief. Too commonly, we say all of the right things, but our actions do not align with our words. When these four areas of belief aren't aligned, an alarm goes off in the brain, quickly diminishing your belief.

In our previous worlds of leading high performing teams in the fire service and special operations, trust and full implicit belief were necessary. This is where we both learned the criticality of striving to eliminate the inevitable say/do gaps that creep into our lives.

A say/do gap is an easy thing to understand but a difficult thing to avoid. It is simply doing what you say you will - period. In our I got your back - really? blog, we shared many of the often-missed ways that we either have or don't have each other’s backs. Most of these missed opportunities to support each other were about actions, not words.

Words are usually easier than actions - there are a lot of people who can help you shape your message to be as perfect as possible, but you’re the only one who can actually close your say/do gaps. It's all too common for us to miss our say/do gaps while others see them immediately. Others can counsel and mentor to help bring your gaps to light, but the only one accountable for doing what you say you would do is always you.

As we've coached and learned from the best leaders in the world, there is no doubt that the best of the best generate belief in all four of the areas above. Recognizing and taking responsibility for any say/do gaps are mindset skills that they've developed over time. The skills to recognize and close their say/do gaps require vulnerability, openness to learn and grow, and a perspective that, in a complex world, there is no perfection. Still, we can all continually get better at closing our say/do gaps.

Sometimes, this is best done by promising less (underpromising and overdelivering is a key mantra at TIGNUM). Many times, it's actually about doing the simple things that you consistently say. If you talk about respect, efficiency, and productivity, you can’t show up for meetings unprepared, late, and disorganized without creating a say/do gap. If you talk about how important your family is to you, you can’t walk in the door at the end of the day, thinking about work and not being fully present. If you talk about how important being an energy multiplier is, you can’t burn out yourself and others.

The words ownership, discipline, accountability, and execution are often overused in motivational speeches. Yet, the simple actions that must consistently be done to build trust and belief are too often under-practiced. Try closing some of your say/do gaps this week and watch what happens to your ability to Rule Your Impact.

Other Thoughts

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