Thought, Word, and Deed

I am constantly considering strategies and techniques that will help me be more productive. These run the gamut from simple prioritizing (first things first) to more involved, philosophical approaches like defining and refining my purpose in life.

Recently, a friend related an interesting approach which I’d heard previously expounded upon by Isaac Tigrett, co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe and founder of the House of Blues.

The concept is simply, but profound: to live well, to be productive, and to enjoy a certain measure of happiness, it’s a good idea to have your thoughts, words, and deeds in alignment.

This seems simple enough, but when you begin the actual application of it, it can drill deep into your psyche and raise all sorts of questions and issues. It can also provide clear, immediate resolutions to problems you might be having. Let’s start with the questions and issues

For example, let’s say you have a thought. “I want to be a successful business owner.” You may even tell your friends or relatives that this is what you want to do. So your thought and your words match, but what about your actions? Do you work and save money to accumulate the capital necessary to open your own business? Do you research start up or acquisition opportunities relentlessly? Do you work hard, right now, right where you are?

If your deeds don’t match your thoughts and your words, that’s a red flag. You’re not being honest with yourself, or you don’t really know yourself fully yet. That’s my guess, anyway, but in any event, it still leaves you with more work to do. You have to get your thoughts, words, and deeds to match up.

Otherwise, you will be unhappy and not make progress. Of course, when someone’s thoughts are not the same as their words or deeds, we refer to them as liars or hypocrites, or maybe just politicians, depending on the severity of the gap between the two.

Any contradiction between the three–thought, word, and deed–must be examined and resolved. Then we can move on effectively, honestly, and productively. We don’t have any mixed emotions about how we spend our time and money. We are free. We are energized.

The second part of the equation is the solving of problems or achieving clarity about a confusing issue. An extreme example would be if someone tells you they love you, but then that same person hits you when they get angry. Their words and their actions obviously do not match up. They are deceiving you and probably themselves. People do not intentionally, repeatedly cause pain to the ones they love.

In a broader context, the concept is very simple: when someone’s words and actions contradict each other, recognize that immediately for what it is and act accordingly. If they say one thing and do another, acknowledge that. Move on. You can spend a lot of time asking why this is happening. This is often a waste of time, unless you are trying to help a child.

Conversely, if someone’s thoughts, words, and deeds match up, i.e., they are someone who does what they say they’re going to do most or all of the time, that person, for all their other faults, has a certain amount of integrity. You can rely on them to a certain extent, even if you don’t like them or what they’re doing.

The ability to quickly ascertain how much a person’s thoughts, words, and deeds line up or match is one of the most important skills we can develop. It will save us so much pain and heartache down the line…as well as propel us forward into healthy relationships more quickly.

To be harsh on ourselves in this regard–that is, to be rigorous about holding ourselves to the most exacting standard of lining up our own thoughts, words, and deeds–is one of the most character-building exercises we can embrace. 

If we think about it, if we talk about it, we need to make sure we do something about it to the same degree. If it’s not a thought we’re comfortable acting on, we need to dismiss that thought. If it’s not a conversation we want to have, we need to remain silent or change the subject. If it’s not something we’ll be content to enjoy the consequences or rewards of acting upon it, we need to not do it.

But if it’s uplifting to think about, exciting to talk about, and a joy to do, then we need to focus on that–whatever it is as long as it doesn’t hurt other people–and dive into the deep end on it.

Thought. Word. Deed. How do yours match up?

  • BGT


6 thoughts on “Thought, Word, and Deed

  1. Hi Byron,
    It would be interesting if you could write about how to dress properly when skiing in the alps nowadays like a OMG. 🙂 I was skiing in the french alps recently and was surprise of all the technical stuff I saw… I have not been skiing for the last 10-15 years. I didn’t see many people who dress in an inspirational stylish way. It was either the very luxurious outfits (read prada with fur…) or very technical ski outfits (looking like they would ski the most extreme off pist when they actually are intermediate skiers going down a blue slope).

    How do you dress in low key, elegant, proper way when skiing today?

  2. Thank you, I really like this analogy of having all aspects in alignment. Sort of like a proper posture of character.

  3. I agree with Expat Yank – ouch! But it probably means my thoughts/words/deeds need more attention than I’ve been giving them. Many thanks for the thoughtful post.

    1. For a wonderful treatise examining productivity tools and what matters in life, read “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” by Oliver Burkeman.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. As someone who struggles with daydreaming more than acting, this post is incredibly inspiring and motivating. I have work to do!

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