Problems, Behavior and the Futility of Words

“You can’t talk yourself out of a problem you behave yourself into.” – Stephen Covey

This is just one of the powerful truths Stephen left us with.

There’s a beauty and poetry to the words above that is nearly impossible to add to.

So I won’t try…


A few hours ago I wrote the above and didn’t think there was anything I could add. But there is.

It is important to realize that there is internal and external communication. I think we get that external communication – actually speaking words out loud to people – has limits in solving problems created through behavior.

If we’ve wronged someone, through deed, mere words are going to have limited effect in making anything right. They are a good first step, at least in cases where an offense is “novel” (i.e. it’s the first time we done the particular thing). What really matters is what we do after we say we’re sorry.

The same is true for internal communication: what we say to ourselves.

I believe we can all understand that wronging someone and saying we’re sorry is not enough – our actions after the fact are what restore trust (if such is possible… ).

In our own heads, to ourselves, it’s the same. If we do something out-of-integrity, we can recognize it and pledge to do better next time. But if we fail to do better next time, we break faith with ourselves. We corrode one of the most fundamental compacts: self-trust.

If we can’t trust ourselves to do what is right, towards and for ourselves, we truly have a problem.

I’ve long thought that self-trust is the primary enabler of fulfillment and achievement. Without the ability to say something to ourselves and follow-through we are lost and adrift.

The antidote: begin small. Identify the small challenges and follow-through on your self-promises.

Regaining trust – self or otherwise – is akin to building a brick wall, it goes brick-by-brick and every brick matters.

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