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To Talk the Talk or Walk the Walk, that is the question.

Which is better: Successful communication, or successful performance?

In today’s world we are pressured to be “eithers.”

I’m either left-brained, or right-brained.

You’re either creative-minded, or process-minded.

We’re either left, or right.

Even in modern society, we are either right or wrong. There is no longer any in-between.

And at work, we can either talk the talk or we can walk the walk.

This pressure hurts us mentally, socially, and professionally. Besides the fact that the lateralization of brain functions (left-brain and right-brain thinking) has been proven to be wrong, and greatly exaggerated, people continue to identify themselves with groups they feel accentuate those traits they like about themselves.

But that is a topic for another day. At our jobs we are expected to fill many different positions, and complete different tasks, and our different talents and tendencies will make us more adept at certain things. And sometimes we have to make a choice: to communicate successfully or successfully perform.

The question remains: which is better?

The Argument for Communication

Are you doing great work but people still complain? Is everyone confused in meetings, and disappointed when you deliver a finished product even though “everything was explained in the contract?”

You’re probably not communicating effectively.

It’s the whole “if a tree falls in a forest…” analogy. If you create a great website, but don’t explain it effectively, or promote it professionally, then it may as well not exist.

How many inventors lost out on being famous (i.e. the airplane), and how many great ideas have been lost to time because of poor communication?

On a more personal level: how many times has a great project you managed been a resounding disappointment at the end because everyone was expecting something different? Or someone understood something completely different than what was delivered because of incomplete communication?

The Argument for Performance

How can you promote a restaurant if it has no food?

You can’t make a movie trailer if there isn’t a movie

You need substance in order to to have something about which you can communicate.

Granted, there are great examples of people managing to communicate, promote, market, and sell great communciation without substance.

And that’s why most of them are illegal.

When was the last time you saw a commercial for a Ferrrari?


Their performance already speak louder than any commercial could. They’re so good at whet they do they don’t need good communication.

Same for you, if you’re working well enough, and your “product” is good enough, you shouldn’t have to say much at all.

If the only compliment you are receiving lately is “you’re a great communicator.” You should probably begin to analyze your life and your work habits, because that probably means they don’t have anything nice to say about the work you’re doing. And if you still somehow have a job, you’re probably very good at communicating. Good for you.

But a true professional, a real entrepreneur, would be insulted. We want to be valued for what we are, what we do. Not what we say.

Exhibit A: Ferrari

The Answer

The answer, simply put is both.

Surprise. Surprise.

An analogous example would be, which is more important: Breathing or eating? The answer again, of course, is both.

You could refine it further, (hopefully not breaking the comparison) as between breathing or living.

In that case the breathing feeds into, sustains, and creates a higher likelihood of living, assuming other conditions exist.

Same thing with regards to communication and performance.

If you want to perform — and I’m talking in a business context, then communication is a crucial element of that performance. You can’t successfully perform in the absence of good, successful, or productive communication.

Now, you could communicate successfully and still not perform because other variables play into that. Like most things in life and business it’s a gestalt.

Which means it’s all of the above.

Successful communication is critical, it is the lifeblood of successful performance. It is highly unlikely to have good performance without good communication. Though it is true to say, that you could be lucky and perform and succeed without great communication, but then you’re just making things hard on yourself. And real entrepreneurs don’t depend on luck.

Mathematically, one tends towards the other. The presence of one enhances the likelihood of the other. Work on one, and the job in the other sphere is easier. Successful communication tends to and leads towards successful performance.

That’s the continuum, in business, in sports, in relationships, and in life.

Aaron Webber is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Webber Investments LLC, as well as a Managing Partner at Madison Wall Agencies.

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