The statement above is one everybody should do their best to remember. It is one that everyone should do their best to live by. No matter what kind of leader in life we are, and trust me we are all leaders of some sort, it bears noting that what truly inspires others is not our words, but our behavior. It is even more important that our words and actions are in accord. What is your opinion of someone who constantly says one thing, but then acts in a way contrary to their words? There are lots of names we have for these people, none of which are good. What about someone who feels the need to go around and share their opinion on a topic with everyone who wasn’t even aware they wanted to listen? Again, fun titles we may bestow on these folks as well.
Think of the people who inspire you? Is it the person who is constantly telling you that you ‘should do this’ or ‘should do that’? Especially if they are not doing anything or worse doing the opposite of what they are telling you to do. Do these people inspire you? They inspire me…inspire me to do without their company. How about the people busy working on what they think is important in life? The friend that has been diligently saving and now has enough to buy themselves a new car? Certainly more inspiring than the friend who tells you that you should be saving more while they are out spending their entire paycheck at the local watering hole. How about your boss that tells you to be more dedicated to your work while he leaves early every Friday to work on his golf game? Then there is the boss who is there working when you get in and is still there when you leave. Which one would you rather work for.
The most important category that I can think of where this principle comes into play is being a parent. This doesn’t even have to be a biological parent. It can be adoptive parents, step parents, aunts, uncles, or anyone that a child may look up to. We can spend hours or longer thinking of the perfect lessons to think of for our children. In reality, only one will matter – how we live our lives. Do our children hear us saying things like, “It is no use. I will never be able to do/afford that.” or such dangerous clichés as “Rich people must have screwed people over.” What we say repetitively can be absorbed more than we think. Still, it is our example that will be picked up by children the most. We tell them to always be honest and take care of their obligations, but we are 2 months behind on the electric bill and are trying to buy more time by saying we never received the bill that is sitting on our coffee table. We tell them all people should be treated with kindness and respect but don’t say something when our friends make racist or prejudiced comments. I believe if you want to positively affect a child’s life, whether you are a parent, teacher or just an adult who has influence in the child’s life, start thinking more in terms of “What can I show this child?” instead of “What can I tell this child?”
One of the greatest things we can do is lead by our example. How we conduct ourselves does a lot more to tell the world about us than what we say. How we conduct our relationships tells the world how much we love our spouse than what we say when they are sitting next to us. How we approach our work will tell others what kind of discipline we have. Saying someone’s time is very important to us is a nice gesture, but do you think they will believe us if we are constantly showing up late to meet them? Begin to think what actions we can take to truly express our character and what is important to us. I would love to hear some of yours in the comments below.