What's That You Say?

While I was gone last month, I caught up on a couple of podcasts. One in particular has had me thinking ever since.

CBC's Under the Influence is about advertising, marketing, business, communication, and even some history of those general topics. I like this program, and its predecessor The Age of Persuasion, because they help me, the fish, stop and think about the water I'm swimming around in.

I haven't listened beyond this episode, It's the Little Things, because I'm not done thinking about it yet.

Late in the show, host Terry O'Reilly quotes Isadore Sharp, the founder, chair, and CEO of the Four Seasons Hotel Chain: "We are only what we do, not what we say we are."

Of course we've all heard "show don't tell." Show the antagonist kicking the cat. In the movie Titanic, the bad guy grabs a kid so he can get near a lifeboat. (Not subtle, but what about that movie is?)

Still, I think it's true: we really *are* what we do.

In the past couple of months, I have heard no fewer than three people say things like
* "I'm really a people person."
* "I'm all about my family."
* "I'm just too giving -- I put others' needs before my own."
* "I'm the kind of person who calls it like he sees it."

Perhaps you will be shocked to learn that their behavior was actually very different. A "people person" who gossiped and goaded and picked fights with others; a "family" person indifferent to the family's needs but instead imposed her idea of right on them; a person who enjoying fingerpointing and blaming and generally Monday-morning-quarterbacking.

In real life, these kinds of people are tiresome to be around for long. In a book, I enjoy seeing a character whose self-analysis and behavior are at odds, with a couple of caveats: I enjoy it IF I believe the writer is doing it on purpose and IF the character's growth (ability to see and correct the disparity) is an integrated and important part of the story.

But that's just me. And as you know, I am really and truly the kind of person who only thinks of others, which is the only reason I listen to podcasts and read and think about things -- it's all for you, Internet.

Yeah, back to work.