Sometimes in life, you meet someone who completely crystalizes a thought, a life philosophy, or an ethos in a way so concise that you can’t help but slap yourself on the forehead and say, “OF COURSE! That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to say for years, but never was able to put into words. Or at least, not those words. Those are good words!”
This happened to me last week. Sunday night, in the middle of a wide-ranging, life-changing conversation, I heard something that has been echoing in my head ever since. It wasn’t so much that the concept was profound, but being a sucker for a good catchphrase, it has made an indelible impression on me.
Some background: I was raised in a household where my parents prized work over talk. They never wanted to hear what we kids were going to do, they wanted to seewhat we had accomplished. My mom still derides anyone who allows “her alligator mouth to overwhelm her hummingbird ass” – someone who talks a big game but can’t put up the work to support it. We were raised to be do-ers, not talk-ers.
This philosophy of doing, not talking, is easy for me to implement in my professional life. I’m competitive and driven. It’s hard for me to be anything but a do-er; it’s one of the things that has made me successful as a business owner. I don’t have anyone standing behind me, keeping me on task – I just have to do the work, or fail.
But it also bleeds into my personal life. When I’m working with my trainer, I know that he’s looking for results, not talk. If I don’t hold up my end of the bargain, it will be painfully obvious. I won’t make the improvements I desire. And no amount of promising to eat better lunches or do cardio outside the gym will get results. I have to put in the work, consistently, and not kid myself (or him) about what I’m doing (or not doing.)
And this is what brings us back to that Sunday night conversation. (Hang with me here, I promise it will all come together.) My friend Matt and I were talking about life philosophies, and he said his was simple – “Don’t sing it, bring it.” Or, in longer form, don’t tell me what you do, show me what you doing. Matt’s a singer, so it makes a ton of sense for him to put it in those terms, but I love that you understand immediately what he means. I filed that away on my list of things I liked about him, because I respect anyone who approaches life that way, and then didn’t really think about it the rest of the night. We were busy solving the world’s problems.
The next morning – Monday – I woke up at 4:30. I’d committed to my trainer (see, told you it would all come together) that I would get up and do cardio at least three days a week, to amplify the results we were getting in the gym. He didn’t ask me to do this – I told him I wanted to and I would. But now that it was time to actually DO it, I was tired. That life-changing conversation had kept me up past my bedtime. I’d had a few bourbons. It would have been easy to stay in bed, sleep another hour, and put off my cardio until some unknown future day.
But as I lay in bed, contemplating resetting the alarm for an hour later, one thought rose to the surface of my mind: “Don’t sing it, Lacy. Bring it.” I TOLD my trainer I’d do this. I NEEDED to do this if I was going to get to where I wanted to be. And if I rolled over and went back to sleep, I’d be setting a precedent for myself and my relationship with him. I am just another client who talks a big game, but doesn’t produce. I’m not comfortable being that client, or that person.
So I threw back the covers, put on my gym clothes, and got on the treadmill. It wasn’t easy. It certainly wasn’t the best workout I’ve ever had (the bourbon coming out of my pores might have had something to do with that.) But I did it. It was my choice. I didn’t just sing it. I reinforced to myself that I was going to follow through on my commitments. I am a do-er. I am bringing it.