“The true meaning of your words is not what you say, but what you do.”–Frank Sonnenberg
One of my uncle’s favorite sayings was, “Whatever can be said but not practiced is better not said; what can be practiced but not spoken of is better not done.” This wise proverb came to mind while one of those infomercials promoting a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM) played. The spot was one of those notorious 10-minute commercials that YouTube infamously drops into the middle of their videos.
Instead of skipping the commercial right away, I listened to a portion of what the promoter had to say. After a couple of minutes, I clicked “Skip Ads” to resume playing the five minute-long video I originally intended to watch.
The ad pitch was similar to the promises I heard when I was invited to an Amway meeting by one of my coworkers. I ended up buying the starter kit and attended a seminar. It later turned out that I was unable to recruit any “associates” because most of my friends had either been previously recruited or were not interested at all. I was stuck with $100 worth of over-priced merchandise that nobody wanted, including myself. I still own the cheap, blue, plastic tote-tray that contained the merchandise. I use it to store car-care supplies in the basement.
I became very familiar with the MLM because a cousin and a former room mate tried to recruit me into Amway. My esteem towards both of these people diminished after they first denied their invitations were Amway recruitment events, but later had to admit that the meetings were only about Amway.
The third meeting, the one brought on by my former room mate, required us to drive 40-miles to the representative’s home. As soon as we entered the house, I saw the blackboard and the typical semi-circle arrangement of folding chairs. I said that I recognized the Amway setup and that I had already been approached twice before. We got back in the car so my friend could take me home. Our trip back to Norfolk was mostly silent. I was miffed that I had requested the night off of work only to discover it was to go to another Amway meeting.
If the former room mate and my cousin had been straight-forward with their invitations, a lot of time and disappointment would have been avoided. Their reputations would not have been tarnished by engaging in deception. It took quite awhile for me to get over the resentment I felt towards them. Skillful, truthful use of words would have prevented these scenarios.
Talking is effortless and often mindless. When words are said, it’s prudent to consider their implied promises. When we establish a habit or practice it’s wise to consider what, who, and how they are affected. These seem like obvious and simple approaches. However, neglect of these principles is too common.
My uncle’s favorite quote reminds us that our words express what is on our minds but our actions reveal what is actually in our hearts. In other words, don’t make promises that can’t be kept. That seems simple enough.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes spiritual advisor and metaphysics teacher, Anthon Saint Maarten. “Actions prove who someone is; words just prove who they want to be. If you want to know your true value in someone’s life, mute their words and watch their behavior.”