With few exceptions, all of us have beliefs, values, and a relatively similar sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. They are what make us different from other living things on the planet…they are what make us human.
But while having principles may be natural for us, actually practicing them isn’t. Acting according to these beliefs, values, and good intentions…doing what’s right “walking the talk” is one of the biggest challenges each of us face every day. It’s true for just about every aspect of our lives – from family and faith, to sports and politics, to our jobs and our communities.
Unquestionably, talking about beliefs is easy – there’s not much effort or pain involved at all. Behaving those values, however, is quite another story.
Discussing good citizenship is a lot easier than going out in an election-day rainstorm to vote. Stating the importance of honesty is just plain easier than overcoming the temptation to keep the change the store clerk overpays us. Touting good service is one thing, staying late to make sure a customer is taken care of is quite another. And, waxing eloquent about how parents should be actively involved in their children’s education is a piece of cake compared to turning off our most favorite TV program so we can check our children’s homework.
Here are two facts “you can take to the bank:”
- We all have moments when our behaviors are out of sync with the beliefs we hold deep down inside, and
- The vast majority of those out-of-sync behaviors are Unintentional.
Think about it. How many times have you jumped out of bed in the morning and declared, “My mission in life today is to NOT walk my talk. I’m not gonna rest until I’m out of sync somehow, some way!”? We’ll go way out on a limb and guess that your answer is NEVER! It just doesn’t happen that way.
Are there some misguided, hypocritical people out there who knowingly – even intentionally – do wrong? Unfortunately, yes. They’re the ones who make the headlines. The good news, however, is that they’re also the extreme exceptions. The rest of us tend to approach each new day loaded with noble goals and good intentions.
But too often, we get bombarded with demands, crises, pressures, changes, issues, and unexpected situations that make merely “holding our own” sometimes the best that we can hope for. As a result, it can become way too easy to fly through our lives on automatic pilot – without really thinking about what we do and whether or not we’re actually behaving our beliefs.