“Do what you say you will do,” believe it or not, according to Google, is an attributable quote. Apparently the person who said this first (ha!) is a man named James M. Kouzes. I’m sure he’s a fine gentleman. He’s the author of a series of books about leadership in business. But, I’m yawning even typing that.
It’s almost sad to me that “the royal we” has to attribute something so obvious to a single person. I mean really?
Just do what you say you’re going to do.
Why does anyone need to be told that? And yet, so many do. Dare I say, we all do at least sometimes?
It goes without saying that politicians need to work on this. And for some of the more evil ones (cough, cough DJT, cough, cough), we hope they don’t or can’t do what they say they’re going to do. It is amazing though that we give the most power to the people whose talk-to-action-ratio is so horribly imbalanced. But lucky for you, this blog isn’t about them.
My mom’s favorite idiom/quote/belief is “Actions speak louder than words.” You’ve heard that since you were 5. Guess who it’s attributed to according to Google? Miley Cyrus!
Nah, I’m kidding. Did you really believe that? Anyway, could “actions speak louder” be more true? My mom LIVES it. Like to the point that it’s frustrating because I want her to stop doing so many things and just come to my damn yoga class. But, I’m grateful to have doers for parents because their doing has influenced me somewhat.
Despite this, I’ve always been attracted to the dreamers. To the grandiose vision types. The brainstormers who share their storms aloud. The people who paint you a picture of what could be and paint it so well that you get caught swimming in it and drinking it and feeling it, even though it hardly comes to fruition. These people, as described famously by Jack Keroac:
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”
My dad has this trait, somewhat, though he does carry out many of his unique dreams (see also the strawberry patch coffin in my parents’ backyard). I quote Dick Doran circa 1994, “We will be living in a different house by Spring 1996.” Guess where they live 22 years later? Still at good old 1536. So if a dreamer and a doer can coexist within one person, that’s where the magic happens. That’s where the actions speak loudest.
When you hear about someone who is both dreamer and doer, which is what I consider a life-long goal, it’s easy to get behind that person. It’s inspiring, invigorating, and it’s contagious.
The reasons I started writing about this were some events at in my professional life in which someone totally didn’t do what he/she said he/she was going to do; listening to the very Talky McTalkerson mayor of Baltimore speak a few weeks ago with my friend Laurel and some of our kids; and finally, because of a woman from West Baltimore named Erricka Bridgeford.
Though she doesn’t vocally take “credit” for the Baltimore Ceasefire, or from what I have heard from her, she really doesn’t take “credit” for anything, though it seems like she deserves to. Because she’s a dreamer and a doer and not a blabber, talker, boaster. She’s not concerned about being lauded, she’s concerned about results and she’s driven by peace.
What started as the Baltimore Ceasefire Weekend also called the Peace Challenge has grown into Baltimore Ceasefire 365. On that first Baltimore Ceasefire weekend in August 2017, there were actually two murders that very weekend. But that was not the end. Not for Bridgeford and not for Baltimore.
The Ceasefire Team–which is really open to anyone who wants to speak about it, spread the news, hang the posters, follow them on Instagram, join their listserv, you name it–arranged additional Baltimore Ceasefire Weekends. From there the movement has grown. Bridgeford says in her TedX Talk, “It’s not just about not being violent, it is about being purposefully peaceful.” She talks about how this applies externally in Baltimore but also inside everyone’s head and heart. I dare you to watch Ted Talk and try not to cry.
In addition to Bridgeford’s dreamer/doer power, she is spiritual without being tied to a specific dogma. She holds an event called “Sacred 7” to shed light on the space where Baltimoreans were murdered. She invites the community (which again, means everyone), goes to the spot at the Sacred Hour of 7 p.m., sits on the ground, sends energy to the fallen and to the murderer. She burns sage and makes the place a sacred place. Now, there are a lot of sacred places in Baltimore because, yea, there are a lot of murders in Baltimore. But. In February, Baltimore went 11 and a half days without a murder. I hear the people who do not live in cities like Baltimore saying mentally or aloud, “Are you kidding me? Is that really a reason to be happy?” Well Lexington Market wasn’t built in a day. And if we don’t celebrate the milestones along the way, we won’t see our growth. So yea, 11 and a half days was a big damn deal for us. But this city has been around for over 300 years and oppression here has been around just as long. So this is where we are. And this is where we start. And we go up from here.
Bridgeford, who was named Marylander of the Year for 2017, talks about the feeling that so many people feel: “I want to do something but I don’t know what to do.” And yea, that’s relatable as an American and as a Baltimorean with a beating heart in 2018. We’re in this moment as a country feeling like our problems are too huge, how can we make change? We’re in this moment as a city feeling like our problems are too huge, how can we make change? I doubt the people reading this article were the target audience for, “Don’t shoot,” but we have voices and power and keyboards to type and windows to hang signs and the power to join this effort.
So when you don’t know what to do about a problem, you find something to do. Bridgeford says,
“Don’t be numb.”
The solution is lying latent in someone’s head. Why not yours? And it might feel crazy, impossible, embarrassing, raw and vulnerable and scary. But, why not you? So finally, and most importantly, to end the way I began, with the words of James M. Kouzes, whoever the hell that is, “Do what you say you will do.”