Updated: Aug 30, 2021
The intention of the title above is not to make you only read this article but to make you step back and think about the success rate of "Walk the Talk" principle. Make no mistake, I am not against the logic behind Walk the Talk however on ground how many people are able to implement the same is the bigger question here. It is no rocket science to guess or do a fact check that irrespective of generations or centuries the number of people who inspired the society and won trust of people are less than 4 or 5 % of the population and if you apply the principle of walk the talk to them then definitely the success rate is very high but we still have vast majority of population who only talks but are unable to walk it.
A strange test
To clear the air a bit, I would like to ask you 2 questions, If you ask random 100 people from various parts of the planet that
Do you trust politicians, are you inspired ?
Do you trust your soldiers, are you inspired ?
Without even blinking or thinking much your answer to the first question will be something like, " majority of people will not trust politicians ", you know it, your gut feeling, your subconscious mind just knows it. The same goes to question number 2, majority of the people whose country has professional armed force unit will answer in the affirmative. This same question can be applied to corporate leaders, bankers, doctors, lawyers etc but the reason I chose politicians and army as my question is because of no iota of ambiguity in the answers.
Now let us put our thinking cap on. Why people do not trust political leaders by and large ? Why they fail to inspire good people to join politics ? Because they talk first and then fail to walk. If we study inspiring world leaders like let us say Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, you will find that they could all walk the talk which inspired people. However I would like to add one critical observation of mine here, that is, apart from their vision which they articulated to their people, most of their low levels missions or goals were implemented first and then got spoken at length.. For example Gandhi never wasted time talking again and again to British that he will fast if his conditions are not met, he simply stopped eating and his followers did so and movement started, gained steam & post everything when media and world wanted to hear from him he spoke why he did what he did. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison and post that when he delivered his speeches or got interviewed about his years in prison, every word touched people, he inspired the world. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose never spent lot of time talking about his intention to form an army against the British, he went to Germany, then Japan, formed an alliance, formed an army and attacked British. Even after 70 years people wants to know how he created an army and each speech of his from archives inspires people. It is the walking which is very important. Now compare politicians with an army, does the army talk before they complete a challenging mission ? Of course I am not taking about formal press meets here, I am talking about promises being made before a mission. Sometimes we do not even come to know how many missions army has failed in and they do in reality but in our memory we only can recall successful chapters of valor of our troops. That is because the army only talks after they have walked.
The Science behind
1. When you talk about something you are going to do or accomplish & then you succeed , you inspire - Walk the talk
2. When you talk about something you are going to do or accomplish & then you fail, you lose trust.
3. When you accomplish something and then talk about why you did and how you did, you inspire - Talk the walk
Have you ever wondered why TED talks are so inspiring, an average observer will say, well its because how those speakers delivers a perfectly articulated and engaging talks.
Sure, it is true that the most successful TED talks are the ones which captivates audience's attention
till the end and then there is a wow reaction at the end. But hold on, here is my perspective. More than eight hundred thousand views on Ted talk delivered on world peace. An inspiring speech delivered by 1997 Nobel Peace prize winner Jody Williams. All those attributes like articulation, engaging story telling, perspectives, slow revelation etc was spot on but just imagine that speech being delivered by Osama Bin Laden in the same style without any deviation. Still inspiring ? or you will say " What a hoax" Amazing isn't it, same words, same flow, same immaculate story telling but a completely different reaction.
Talks become inspiring when the person himself or herself through his or her work has first established his or her intention or passion in the society. And then rest of the attributes serves like garnishing your dish. Talks become inspiring when you are talking about how you did it, why you are doing it, what you are doing now instead of only telling everyone what you want to do. You do not need to be psychologist to understand that when you talk and declare what you are going to do you put yourself under tremendous stress to implement what you said. That burden of expectation from others and yourself can make vast majority of those talks and those people uninspiring as they fail to walk the talk. Only those people who have found their passion and mission in life can survive the walk the talk test and we all know that those people are only a handful minority in our world. So I always ask myself this, why only promote walk the talk when we can have more people inspiring us in society if only they can talk their walk.
It is also my personal experience while working for 15 years now in various organization that a lot of managers & leaders are not trusted or inspiring to the workforce just because there is a huge gap in what they preach and what they do. For example a CEO tells his people that we are like a family, it only takes a recession for everyone to realize that No, we are not a family, boom, trust gone. If you are going to lay off during recession as money is more dear to you than your people why say those words ? You can tell your people honestly that look we are all not family but we are working for a common purpose of maximizing profit for our company. That is so much genuine and even if not inspiring but you will not lose trust at the end. I will give you another example, imagine a conflict management situation in your team, you as a manager jump in and tell your team, "guys we are one team, let us not play the blame game " however next day when you get a customer escalation you forget One team talk and you try to find out the person who can be blamed and sacked, not inspiring at all. Even I will admit that in the starting days of my career as a manager I was also influenced by my managers to do the same to my people however as I have myself realized over the years that " Change in any person does not happen with only understanding of a matter or subject but it happens with realization " so I also had my share of realization to come to this point that talking the walk makes much more sense and can be more productive, more inspiring to the world. I myself have a nature of not announcing my projects beforehand unless I have already achieved a small milestone, I think this helps me do a lot in a day without the stress of commitment to anyone, without the stress of chasing my words. I have nurtured a pattern in my work within myself as well where in I keep my manager informed about my intention and I use words like " we are working on it" however I refrain from sharing more details unless asked specifically. Once I achieve my goal, I disclose it and start marketing it. That way even before I speak about my project people are eager to listen to you, people are eager to get you involved in bigger projects, bigger challenges. Trust grows. I have even fought with some of my bosses refusing to take initiatives which I never believed in or I thought will not be sustainable. I am sure my bosses might not have liked my resistance but my intention is always to generate trust and inspire people through my work. So I always think about sustainability before I can start anything new. Taking an initiative to please your boss and then dump that work and going to next initiative next year just because you have secured your rating for that year has not been my cup of tea. I have seen many who does that and I have a strong apathy towards that. Productivity is not how much you are doing or talking, it is how many assignments you have finished which you started. This imbalance of Walk the Talk needs to be balanced with Talk the Walk as well if we want to see more inspiring leaders and people in this world.