Do what you say

As a follow up to a post in which I quoted a line from Jimmy Buffett’s song, “Clichés,” “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” I will add another thought, “Do what you say.” Many people talk about doing something, but when it comes down to actually accomplishing what they have talked about, they often don’t follow through. I am the type of person who would rather not say anything than to make hollow promises about things I know I will never do. In my view, it is worse to falsely commit to a course of action merely to please other people than to say, in as direct a manner as possible, “No, I am not going to do that.” I realize that some people have good intentions, perhaps believing they can accomplish what they say they can do, however, we all know the old saying about good intentions being the pavement on the road to a certain unpleasant place. One of my primary dislikes in working for large corporations was the seemingly endless committee and other meetings I was required to attend. There usually appeared to me to be a lot of posturing and posing instead of accomplishing anything. Saying things to impress one’s boss or others has an effect opposite to what is intended when little or nothing happens to carry out the work. I am usually the person on any team who has relatively little to say because, while the other team members are spending time talking, I am devising an action plan that will be carried out, with little fanfare, as soon as the meeting is over. I began this post with a quote from a Jimmy Buffett song and I will end it with a line from a song by Elvis Presley, written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange, “A little less conversation, a little more action please.” Try it for yourself: Do more while talking less. It works!

This is a topic Melissa initiated – that’s how these posts work. One of us generates the topic and then becomes the first author/blogger. The first author writes what ends up in the left column of the post, the second author then responds. Many times the right column posts follows or expands upon the left column. Sometime the diverge to one degree or another. When I started thinking about this title my mind went in a somewhat different direction than Melissa’s has, though they are related. “Do what you say” means to me, just that. If you make a promise to a client, an employee, or anyone, by saying you are going to do something, do it. Over the years we have had employees who said they were going to do something, make a call, finish a task, and then just never seemed to get around to it. In some ways it would be better if they never agreed to do whatever was in question. In contrast, and in particular as it relates to working for demanding clients, it is my goal, shared by Melissa, to tell them what we will be doing the for the money they will pay us. And, then we strive to meet or exceed those promises. This means sending a report before our pre-determined deadline whenever possible. It means ensuring that the research we conduct is designed to answer the questions the attorney has posed to us. It means working through adversities sometimes to get the job done, whatever it takes, without excuses. We have had a few failures due to some extreme circumstances with some aspects of our work. But, it is not for lack of trying or drive on our part. It has usually been because some member of the team was not working with this same mindset. This just seems basic, second nature to me. However, that is clearly not the case with everyone in the workforce. I will always recall an interaction with a customer while working a retail job during college, selling cameras in a catalog store (anyone remember Service Merchandise stores?). The customer, a man who, as it turned out, owned a successful business, wanted a camera we did not have in stock. I offered to have one shipped to the store from another store and he gave me his card so that I could call him. I did so as soon as the camera came in and he came in and bought it and I showed him how to use it. He was effusive with his compliments regarding my efforts. To me, they were just normal, what I should do, but he insisted I exceeded his expectations. And it was that encounter that made me realize that, perhaps, doing what one says is not always the norm. It should be, but as we have all experienced, it is not always the case. Owning a small business, and managing staff, however, gives us the opportunity to ensure that this goal, meeting or exceeding expectations, is the mantra of all who we employ.

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