Just because you say it

Yesterday I ran the Sporting Life 10k. There were thousands of people in this race, and hundreds of them were wearing handwritten, inspirational notes on their backs: “Never. Stop. Fill in your own blank.” I saw many obligatory, hackneyed (read “inane”) words like “believing, dreaming, wishing.” Had I worn one, it would have said “being a pain in the ass.” My favourite was “politicking.” I wanted to ask that guy how that was working out for him, but he was one of the few people I actually passed.

I was struck by how often we say things, wish things or want things to be true, but then we don’t really do anything to make them so.

Which naturally lead me to things like corporate visions, missions and values. Just because you say them, print them, hang them on your wall doesn’t mean they’re true. You’ve got to put your shoulder into them, work them, LIVE them. If respect for your colleagues and partners is one of your values, it better damn well pervade everything you do, right down to how you and your people are evaluated at half year and end year reviews. If diversity is one of your values, it better not just show up as your head of HR. If you say you’re innovative, you’d better be, everywhere, from your products to the way you incentivize your people. Otherwise, you’re just a dreamer – “Never. Stop. Wishing.” Or your full of it – “Never. Stop. Politicking.”