“One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying…. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterized by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds!” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love
Given that we are quickly approaching MLK day next week, I thought it apropos to share one of Martin Luther King Jr.s’ many quotes. While this passage may not be the most repeated of his work, I find it to be thought-provoking and worthy of self reflection.
When you think about your own leadership, it can be helpful to explore that gap between doing and saying. Are there certain principles that you value, but have difficulty practicing? Are there times when you say one thing, but do another? Think about it and be honest with yourself.
As human beings I think we all have incongruencies between what we say and do. (This builds upon my blog post last week about the importance of matching your actions with your values.)
What areas of your leadership could be strengthened by bridging the gulf between what you profess and what you practice? If you’re not sure, I’d encourage you to solicit candid feedback from a colleague or boss. Better yet, if you have children, ask them about any instances when you have not practiced what you’ve preached. I’ll guarantee you’ll have an insightful and possibly humbling conversation.
My daughters are now 19 and 23 years old and I can attest that they thoroughly know my values and have seen me both at my best and my worst. Over the years, they have also been quick to point out any differences between what I said and did. While they were not always the easiest conversations, especially when I knew I was overly tired or taxed, those conversations about my own gaps in doing and saying helped me grow as a leader, a mother, and a human being.