Walking the Talk - Lifework Systems

The holidays are a time we gather and connect in caring ways as family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. We recognize and acknowledge our appreciation and love for one another with cards, kind words, rituals and gifts. One of those rituals is to set new resolutions. Many people re-discover, re-assess and re-decide what matters most. They also decide how and if they are willing to walk the talk in making positive changes.

In my work with clients, I ask people to live by purpose and values and to develop leadership in adults and children. I did this within my own family. I walked the talk. We had a shared leadership model. My children received allowance no matter what, and it was not tied to chores. It was part of our family dynamics; we shared in the profits, the losses, the power, and worked to help one another to be wildly successful as individuals and as a family. Everyone was expected to learn how to, and work out their problems with one another. As a parent, my job was to make sure everyone was taught how to manage their challenges and discover what and how they want to contribute. I was often looked at sideways for refusing to use control in many forms, including punishment, praise, rewards, or critical evaluation because I knew these cost my children their intrinsic motivation. Instead, I made transferring responsibility to them a top priority. It was not always easy to walk the talk.

Here are a few examples of how this plays out with my clients. I work with business leaders who have committed to teach their people to manage their own relationships, productivity and engagement. They inform each employee they expect them to learn to manage conflict, build trust, stop gossip, and improve communications, to name a few. Where the rubber hits the road is when staff members gossips instead of using healthy venting skills, and demand the leader handle their relationship issues, refusing to learn what to do to solve them on their own. Determined leaders often call me in to help until they become confident and knowledgeable in how to transfer responsibility to their employees effectively so they are teaching them to fish rather than feeding them fish. This takes courage because often the leaders are also learning to fish at the same time and must be humble enough to be learning and teaching, while insisting on positive change. They stand their ground in the face of resistance and as employees push back because they want someone else to blame and someone else to take responsibility for them.

I also help parents and educators provide children with skills and responsibilities never before offered that require courage and practice. They learn to build a shared power model, which can be challenging and frightening for adults and children alike. For example, students are expected and supported to work out problems with teachers or fellow students. The Principal expects staff to create a mind trust with each other and the students, promising face-to-face they will not gossip about them. Teachers and parents conduct classroom and family meetings where children share in problem solving and decision-making. Walking the talk is difficult when a parent asks the school to stop giving out gold stars or when friends and family criticize the lack of punishment, or when schools encourage parents to share power with children rather than dominating them. Walking the talk for my clients is often a time of challenging transition but the greatest benefit is that people like themselves and one another better.

Whether you revisit existing resolutions or create new ones, choose ones that inspire you deeply, and get all the support you need. At this time of year, we can help you with our blueprint process and program Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail (available in live, online and audio versions). Remember, it is easier to be idealistic about your talk rather than walk it. Call us if we can help.

Business owners, community leaders, educators and parents hire Judy Ryan and Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary environment at work, school or home. Judy can be reached at 314-239-4727 or by email (judy@lifeworksystems.com).

This article was published nationally in Women’s Journals December 2015/January 2016