i visit the suburbs to score a comfortable seat at Starbucks. that’s where i lounged, non-dominant arm dangling off a leather armchair, a few days before Christmas.
during a break from reading about Russian hackers, i inadvertently tuned in to a conversation between two women seated nearby.
they were brainstorming what one of them could email a guy she was dating to keep the conversation going over the holidays.
it gets worse.
she confided, “out of the blue, he said, “i think you should meet my daughter.” then, squeals of excitement from both women. and i mean "women." they were in their forties, which i guess explains why email was a means of seduction.
the pair made me sad for lots of reasons, each of which stem from one fundamental problem: they focused on the wrong information.
i almost called out, "who cares? how much stuff do you say that you don't actually mean?" but it's impossible to do such a thing without sounding like a.) an embittered shrew and/or b.) the requisite crazy lady.
so i returned to my hackers.
and i'll make my point now: what we say is essentially the worst indication of our intentions. this isn’t cynicism, i promise.
“i’ll call you!”
“i had a great time!”
“let’s do this again!”
it’s the easiest thing in the world to say what we don’t mean. politicians know. they build careers, legends, and empires from it.
[politician’s name] says he’ll [improbable nonsense]. right? happens every day. yet we believe.
obsessing over words is futile because it places high value on low quality. it’s like betting a can opener that was made in China will last for generations.
consider the ease of agreeing to go to a birthday party. it takes three seconds to verbalize, uses basic vocabulary, and is so inconsequential chances are you’ll forget it.
but attending one is complex. there’s the blocking off your schedule and the buying a present, then showering and picking out clothes. by the time you’re checking directions, you're in deep. it’s obvious you made a strong commitment.
words are powerful, they just aren't the best predictors of behavior. instead of words, concentrate on actions. they speak volumes. train yourself to pay attention to what you pay attention to. think of it this way: are you counting on the Chinese can opener or the world’s best? (it’s this one)