Wray Herbert, in his column on Mind Matters states emphatically that talk is cheap, it is doing that matters. To bolster his opinion that talk is cheap Herbert refers to an experiment by New York University psychologist Peter Gollwitzer and his colleagues who ran a number of experiments to test this notion. Here is the experiment as described by Herbert:
The psychologists recruited a group of law students and had them rate a series of statements from "definitely yes" to "definitely no"—statements like: "I intend to make the best possible use of educational opportunities in law." But some of the law students merely dropped the anonymous questionnaire into a box while others went over their answers with the experimenter. The idea was to create a laboratory version of the public pronouncement: that is, some made their intention to intensify their studies known while others kept their intentions private.
Then they took an unusual test. They were shown five photographs of a Supreme Court justice, varying in size from quite small to large, and they were asked: "How much do you feel like a jurist right now?" They had to respond by selecting one of the five photos. This well-tested procedure taps into automatic, unconscious self-evaluations: the larger the picture you pick, the more complete you feel. The idea was to see how much publicly declaring their intentions (or not) made them feel like an icon of modern jurisprudence.
In keeping with Gollwitzer's theory, those law students who had publicly announced their plan to read law journals and so forth tended to pick the larger pictures of their legal role models.The results were clear. Although all of the law students were motivated, only those who kept their hopes private actually did the work needed to succeed. There is no substitute for hard work. Or, to use the old joke about how you get to Carnegie Hall, ...practice, practice, practice.