I didn't grow up going to the movies. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I went to the movies with my parents as a kid. I remember seeing Rocky, Grease, Star Wars, and Gandhi. I really didn't want to see that last one, but they insisted... and it's stuck with me to this day.
My friend Stacy recently introduced me to one of Gandhi's quotes, "Action expresses priorities." It keeps haunting me. It seems like every action I take, or intend to take, gets framed as to whether it is in pursuit of a priority in my life. It's a great bar against which to measure my actions, and my priorities, and assess whether they are in sync... or not! In fact, my husband and I have recently begun to abbreviate this sentiment, and will simply mention "AEP" if we feel one of us is veering far off-course, and the kids have gotten on board too!
Think about it: Action expresses priorities.
If my priority is to be healthy and be around to watch my children graduate from college, get married, have children (and for me to become a rock-star Nana), then my actions better have me eating right, exercising my mind, body and spirit, reducing stress levels, laughing more, etc. Refusing to exercise, eating too much, smoking, and ignoring my body is not in support of my priorities!
If my priority is to honor my wedding vows and spend the rest of my life with my husband, then my priorities need to be ensuring that we communicate regularly, that his physical and emotional needs are met, and that we spend quality time together engaging in activities that we both find appealing. Going out with my girlfriends every night, and having an emotional affair on social media or a physical affair with a guy at the office is clearly not in support of my priorities.
If my priority is to raise kind, loving, respectful children who become kind, loving, respectful adults who add value to our society, then my actions better have me role-modeling this behavior, providing them with opportunities to do more, give more and be more, while also allowing them to learn the lessons of failure. Giving my children everything they want, ignoring their dreams, or failing to support them when they reach for the stars is not in support of my priorities!
If my priority is to invest in healthy relationships with my extended family and my friends, then my actions better have me making real, quality time to focus on each of them, to become interested in what they are interested in, to learn about what is really going on in their lives (as opposed to surface talk about the latest storm or story in the news). Being "too busy" to sit down over a cup of coffee or engage in a really focused phone conversation to really talk and connect is not in support of my priorities!
I could go on and on. What are my priorities with my career and growing our business? What are my priorities around giving back in the community and volunteering with organizations about which I am passionate? What are my priorities around being a lifelong learner and reading great books regularly? What are my priorities around learning to be a great cook? (Oh wait, those who know me know that has never been a priority... and my actions support it fully!)
It's so easy to see where others have misaligned actions and priorities! Notice that this post didn't point fingers at anyone else. That defeats the point! We are each responsible for our own actions.
If someone were to look at how you are living, would your actions support the priorities you deem most important? Are you making the time to clarify, then focus, on your priorities? Are you ensuring that your actions follow suit?
Simply talking about priorities isn't enough. Acting on them is! AEP!
For more by Monique Honaman, click here.
For more on emotional intelligence, click here.