When asked what happened at Toyota that led to the massive recall of cars with known safety issues, the president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, James Lentz, said, “we lost sight of our customers”.  A company built on a culture of quality, Toyota’s growth over the last few years eroded the values that had made it solid and strong.  They stopped living the values that would have told them the right things to do when safety problems first came to light within the company.

Can Toyota recover?  Time will tell.  But, in the words of one of their own executives, it’s clear that they ended up in the wrong place because they didn’t walk their talk. They didn’t deliver on their promises of quality and reliability to their customers.

It’s easy to point fingers but there’s a lesson here for all of us.

Each of us is the leader of our own life.

Some of us are leaders in the business world and in our communities. As parents and grandparents, many of us are leaders within our families.

Are we honoring those values that build strong healthy lives, families, communities and businesses?

It’s easy to let them slip away under the pressures of earning a living, building a successful career and raising a family. Regular examination of our lives is needed to keep us on track. Keep us grounded in what matters.  We need to continually ask the question:  In what ways am I living by the values that I say I care about? Most of us will find that we can do more — and we can be better at being who we really want to be. Walking our talk is definitely an exercise in building character!

I once heard someone say, “quality is caring”.  Isn’t that beautifully simple?

Caring. We must have and be caring to build a life of quality.

Care about and for ourselves, our loved ones, our businesses, our communities and our planet.  Sometimes caring is as simple as turning off the television to spend time with a child or attend a community service event.  Or seeking out the local farmer’s market for fresh veggies.  Maybe cutting back on buying the latest “gadget” and making a donation to a cause we support.  Caring can be easy and it can be fun.  That’s the best part of walking our talk, it brings us pleasure.  It’s life-affirming to live our values and we feel it!

How about you?  Are you walking your talk?

It’s always a good day to continue on that journey.

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