The Power of DWYSYWD

This weekend I had the privilege of going for a nice long nature walk with my friend Matt Hale.  Matt and I talked about a large range of topics, but one part of our conversations that has really stuck with me was about the power of DWYSYWD.  DWYSYWD – (pronounced de-wiz-ee-wid), for those of you who don’t know, stands for Do What You Say You Will Do.  I was telling Matt about a coaching session I had with a colleague – and the conversation I had with him about DWYSYWD, and Matt immediately came back with a story of DWYSYWD’s power to build trust.

Matt does some really amazing work for social justice in the city of Detroit (You can learn more about it here:  He told me about one of his friends there who is fully invested in the work – Let’s call him Dan.   Matt told me that he had so many conversations with Dan, times when Matt was vulnerable, that he thought of as the trust building moments between he and Dan.  But Dan recently confessed the moment he decided to really trust Matt.

Matt had been talking about buying the abandoned houses on his block, fixing them up and inviting people to live there in intentional community.  Not long after, Matt bought the house next door.  Dan told Matt that he had never met anyone who had a radical idea like that, and then acted to make it a reality.  That was when he decided to join with Matt in the work he is doing in the neighborhood, and move in.

The truth is that sharing who you are, being real and vulnerable, does build trust – but nothing has power like DWYSYWD.  When you do what you say you will do as a leader, you will soon have followers.  Leaders are change agents, they don’t just talk the talk – they walk the walk.  Whether it’s in business, in your personal life, or your everyday interactions people will trust you, and believe in what you are doing, if you espoused values and lived actions align.  Period- the end.

If you want to succeed in leadership, therefore, there are at least two questions you should be asking yourself.  First, “Am I doing what I said?”  You need to think about what your stated goals and values are.  Are your actions in alignment with them?  Why or why not?  If not, what can you do today to change that?

Second, leaders should challenge themselves with the question “Do I consider what I say I will do?”  If you want to succeed as a leader, take the time to think hard about what your espoused values and goals are.  Don’t agree to do something that doesn’t align.  Furthermore, don’t say you will do something that you are unwilling to do.  Before you say you will do something, consider whether you are truly willing to be in it for the long haul.  Will you make sacrifices to achieve your goal?   Will you quit when the going gets tough?  Is it worth losing people’s trust to say you will do something and then not follow through?


What do you think?  Continue the conversation with your thoughts, comments or questions below.