Teaching Others with Your Example
Your example is probably your best teaching method. But exercising it honestly and with conviction, in the most correct or suitable way, can be very difficult. However, it is also something that is worthwhile and that can give substance to more than one life, including your own.
As Stephen Covey said: “Your actions always speak louder and clearer than your words.” If you do not really internalize what you express, it will never be a reality.
“Giving example is not the main way to influence others; it’s the only way.”
Knowing what I want to be and do
First we must be very convinced of what we want to be and do and then, yes, try to inculcate it in others. Without this first, essential step, it is unlikely that we will be able to teach with our example.
Likewise, the brain and heart, the alliance of reason and feelings, will be essential for us in this direction. Because not everything is thoughts, rationality, or knowledge, and not everything is emotions and affections. It requires courage and understanding, but sensitivity and love are also much needed.
If I’m consistent, I will succeed…
Certainly, people tend to be receptive when finding someone who is consistent. That is, when someone perceives that a person maintains consistency between what they think, what they say and what they do. We all need facts rather empty words. Action, rather than mere rhetoric.
We often think and think, read and read, but do not move on from there. Many ideas sound interesting to us, until we decide to implement them. That’s when we realize that “it’s easier said than done.” In the end, words without actions are like trees without fruit.
I do not ask for what I do not give
Undoubtedly, people convinced of their actions are needed. Risk takers who set their eyes on the growth of their life, at different levels; who are also brave, not to attack or win a fight against others, but to make them grow. This is truly difficult and complex.
Undeniably, a parent who wants to teach their children the value of respect, but mistreats his own wife, almost certainly will fail, starting with their very first attempt.
Similarly, when a person tells lies but demands honesty from others, they are quite possibly facing in the wrong direction. Because you should not ask for that which you will never be able to give.
No one can teach another what they do not know and do not apply
Obviously, people who are examples in life are those who are able to change their context and coexistence scenario: the environment in which they grow and develop. If desired, they are, in many cases, anonymous leaders of existence, that in the process of growing, lead us to growth, as well.
Because a true example is “sticky”: it shows us what we should be doing, which drives us to imitation. It spreads, as in the case of diseases, but this time to heal; to make us stronger and more resistant to the misfortunes of life. Above all, it makes us see that it is indeed possible to act in this way.
Unfortunately though, when a person becomes an example for others, they instantly have more demands. Even the tiniest negative detail in their actions has the tendency to undermine their image and good deeds. Other people are more inclined to look at the defects or missteps than the virtues, even when the latter is far greater than anything else.
Yet we see many parents seeking to educate their children, without first having educated themselves. Trying to convey a message that they never really grasped. And they fail, in the severe clumsiness of trying to teach something they themselves do not know.
In truth, we all carry within us a master and an apprentice. We are examples in some aspects of our lives, but also suffer shortcomings, contradictions, and gaps that lead to inconsistencies between our words and our actions.
Every process takes time
It is true that there are exceptional beings who achieve high levels of consistency. People who get to make their life a true doctrine put into practice. Humans like Gandhi, whose example became a way of life and who took his convictions to a point that managed to change the history of a nation.
Gandhi is precisely who the following story is about:
“A woman went with her son to see Gandhi. Upon her arrival, he asked what she wanted, and the woman asked him to help her child quit eating sugar.”
Gandhi replied, “Bring your child again within two weeks.”
Two weeks later the woman returned with her son. Gandhi turned and told the boy: “Stop eating sugar.”
The woman, very surprised, asked, “Why did I have to wait two weeks for you to say that? Could you not have told him that 15 days ago?”
Gandhi replied: “No, because two weeks ago I was still eating sugar.”
Undoubtedly, everything has a process and a time. You can not reach a goal without first having run over the tracks. Nothing we do to grow will be in vain. And this will be a momentous task, that no one will do for us… The choice belongs to no one but yourself.
Images courtesy of Lisa Fallon, Art Dk