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Vayeira(Genesis 18-22)

Big Talk

If you look carefully at what happens when Abraham entertains his guests, there is a serious discrepancy between what he offers and what he actually does. He promises them prison food and serves them a feast fit for kings.

The Sages say this illustrates an important principle: Say a little and do a lot. But why is it so important?

I believe the answer lies in the power of speech. Speech has the ability to make the intangible, tangible. Ideas are vague, but speech makes them much more concrete. There is a world of difference between thinking something and saying it. A verbal vow carries much more power than a commitment in thought.

Because speech has the power to make ideas more tangible, there is also a potential pitfall. Everyone who runs a business knows that one of the most common ways people avoid acting is by meeting. Having lots of meetings makes people feel as though they are doing something, when in fact, they are merely talking about doing something.

Talk can lure us into a feeling of accomplishment. We talk about what we are going to do and how we are going to do it, and it gives us a sense of achievement -- often so much so that we no longer need to do it! It's an easy trap to fall into. Talk all day and take pride all night in the grandiose ideas we talked about during the day. The ideas don't materialize, but that's okay -- we'll find more grandiose ideas to discuss tomorrow.

So the Sages suggest to "say a little and do a lot." Less meetings, more action. They don't mean to avoid proper and effective planning; they are just saying, don't allow planning to become your mode of action. Don't allow the means to convince you that you are accomplishing the ends.

Very often, big talkers are small accomplishers. They need talk in order to compensate for lack of action. And usually those who accomplish the most don't talk all that much about what they are going to do -- because they are too busy doing it.

Abraham made no big promises. But he provided more hospitality than a five-star hotel. Let's stop promising others and ourselves all that we are going to do -- and just get on and do it instead.

 

Published: September 22, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Catherine Manna, October 21, 2007 12:07 PM

Great article and advise!

Excellent articel of advise and insight.
a little less talk, and more action.
let our actions speak for us!
thank you...much for some to work on, Good One!!!!

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