100 Things I wish my Dad Taught Me. Episode 16. “Your actions determine your results.”

“Your actions determine your results.”

On the wall of my bank manager, back when there were such people, she had a notice:

  • Words are words
  • Thoughts are thoughts.
  • Promises are promises.
  • Ideas are ideas.
  • But results are the only reality.

The result of all your thinking, speaking, wishing, hoping, dancing and emoting is your action. The way you move your hand. The way you eat your food. Whether you are one minute late for a meeting or home when you said you would. Results are reality.

One thing I promised myself, I would never say sorry. Sorry is trying to unsay, undo, reverse something that happened. But it did. And that’s reality.

My client told me how easy his new job is. How wonderful the people are. His needs in the coaching dropped to comfort and conversation about the weather. I tried to stimulate a little action, some homework but he promised to do it but didn’t. He started to take advantage of the ease of his new job and dropped allot of his disciplines. He constantly chose the easy option and sort of boasted how easy and wonderful it was in the new business. His actions spoke in contrast to his vision and ambition. I really tried to stimulate his awareness that we grow at the border of order and chaos but he just gravitated to ease. What is your guess the outcome of his actions?

One client I took to the Himalayas is another example of actions speak louder than words. In the six months leading up to her trek she got the training notes I send people who are doing the trip. Daily exercises, gear descriptions, recommended preparation. My motto for everything I do in life is over prepare. She arrived in Kathmandu to meet the group and we did the essential shopping walk to get a few easy supplies, no more than 3km and given the trip would be over 100km, it was a small stroll on flat ground. She got blisters. She got blisters. She got blisters on the shopping walk because she had not worn her trekking boots before. And she had wool sox. Holy crap. OmG. Well the results were that she lasted 2 days in the mountains before I had to give her a guide and a nice lodge to stay in for the next 2 weeks while we did our trek. Actions speak louder than words. Her emails before the walk had confirmed she was enjoying the training, sitting, I suspect in an Eastern Suburbs cafe. Enjoyment? Really? If you are motivated by happiness, you’ll fail.

On another trip to Nepal, at Lukla Airport I waited for my last client to arrive. As she exited the plane I went into shock. She was huge. Huge. Huge. I’m not meaning big, she was huge. She didn’t fit out the passenger door. She nearly fell down the small disembarkation steps. She was huge and clumsy. I had met her before some years prior and she wasn’t huge. And she had done the training prep for the trip. Something had gone wrong with her mental or hormonal state. She was huge. I mean huge. Not big. No big is beautiful. She was huge. Huge. No not what you think. Huge. Did I say it already? She was huge.

That’s ok, I’m inclusive. I had previously hired helicopters and donkeys and porters to carry people up the mountain. I had dealt with big. But this was .. ready for it … huge. So I had a big, no huge, problem. She was there. She was brave. She deserved a chance. She deserved an experience. So, in great leadership style, I delayed departure from the airport town by a day in order to sort this out and went off line. Off line, doesn’t mean for me what it means for you. Off line for me in the Himalayas has nothing to do with the internet. Off line means not on the trail.

In business parlance, offline in my language means learning in a simulation environment, not in front of clients, online. It means, at home, learning and growing in coaching, not through arguments and trauma for kids. Learning in simulation is not about seeking solace in therapy, it means facing hardship “what if” scenarios in a simulation environment and learning to handle stuff without any real life, real time, consequences. It’s a perfect segway into Rumi’s great poem, the core of masculinity: I’ll read it here.

The core of masculinity does not derive
from being male,
nor friendliness from those who console.
Your old grandmother says, “Maybe you shouldn’t
go to school. You look a little pale.”
Run when you hear that.
A father’s stern slaps are better.
Your bodily soul wants comforting.
The severe father wants spiritual clarity.
He scolds but eventually
leads you into the open.
Pray for a tough instructor
to hear and act and stay within you.
~ Rumi

So, this is saying, in summary: Learn about life in a simulator. Do your corporate training not to make people nicer, but to challenge and confront them in a safe space. That’s my corporate training, push the boundaries so that the learning is done off line, not in real time.

Back to Nepal. So, I took the entire group of 11 people off line. I arranged a small tour of the local schools. Instead of trekking toward our destination, we did a little simulation of the trek, where everyone would get a small taste of the days to come. We went down, 300 meters of altitude and then back up again over a 3-4 hour period. Slowly.

Actions speak louder than words. By the time we got back, my hUGE lady had lost her camera, her marbles, her interest in climbing up steep hills and her determination to smash anyone who would imply she couldn’t do it. She confessed because actions speak louder than words, and in a safe, simulation, (not far from the airport) that she wouldn’t do the trek.

My motto is always coach em up or out. Coach em up means they have the capability but not the wisdom to do it. Coach em out means they don’t have either capability or wisdom. Coach em out means find something they can do and support them to do it. Whether it’s outplacement in another company or in the case of the trek, find something they actually can do but not impeding the progress of my group.

I hired, at my cost, a guide and porter for her. Planned a fourteen day trek down from the airport, and through 5 villages where she would stay, and eat, for two days each. Her trip, the HUGE lady, became more a cultural adventure. And she loved it. In the meantime, I took the group up to 6,000meters above sea level over 10 days of challenging terrain. A trip that would have killed her. And the metaphor should not be lost on your team at work. Sometimes, when the capability and the wisdom are not there, by keeping a team member onboard, you not only impede the progress of the team you put that individual into a tail spin of self doubt and stress. Better to coach em out, rather than have them drag the team down.

So, let’s bring this home.

  1. Are you sitting up straight? Your action in your posture determines your results.
  2. Are you breathing consciously? Your actions in breathing determine your mind state and your mind determines your results.
  3. What are you wearing? Your actions determine your results.
  4. Are you smiling on the outside corners of your mouth? Your actions in face expression drive your chemistry and dopamine transmission to your brain, the root of your results.
  5. What are you eating? Your actions determine your results.
  6. How are you chewing? Your actions determine your results.
  7. Are your eyes soft? Your eyes are the radio dials of your soul.
  8. What are you saying to yourself? Your self-talk determines your opinion of yourself and that drives your actions and results.
  9. Are you investing in yourself off line, in simulation, so you can be online in real time as the best version of you rather than learning on the job, at the cost of children, partner and team.

My Dad did teach me this. My Dad worked hard and got results. My Dad dug the garden himself and the results were obvious. My dad beat the shit out of me when my actions did not meet his standards. So I learnt, to disguise my actions. I learnt how to say one thing and do another. I learnt the art of marketing, branding and inauthentic living, by saying one thing and doing another. I also learnt the hard way that it’s impossible to put your head on the pillow and have a good nights sleep when you say one thing and do another. I learnt, the hard way, that “Your actions determine your results.”

And it’s better when your actions align with your words, thoughts and the results you want. Alignment is everything.

That’s the end of Episode 16. “Your actions determine your results.”

With Spirit


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