“It is difficult to bring people to goodness with lessons, but it is easy to do so by example.” -Seneca
Leading with one’s actions rather than words is powerful and effective. At the same time it allows for the least resistance when we model behavior for those who are entrusted to us, be they our children, the employees we supervise or the friends we so highly value. I often marvel at the parents riding bikes with their children, kids with helmets firmly in place, parents, no helmet in sight. I wonder if this is the style in which the family is lead, “do as I say, not as I do”. This message is confusing to children and adults alike and leads to ignoring the lesson presented.
Not only do our actions speak to those closest to us but to anyone we contact, even through indirect observation. Acting with kindness and consideration, even under duress, models an attitude one would want to encourage in others. The effect may be immediate, influencing the others present in a stressful situation, or it may make an impression on the more distant viewer. Shouting at someone to calm down is far less effective than exhibiting calm in the presence of the agitated person.
Understanding the impact one’s actions have on others also means that we must take care to be consistent in conduct. The repetitive nature of learning is disrupted when one’s demeanor and moral acts are selective instead of constant. Acting as one’s best self without concern or excuse for the situation or associations can not fail to serve one well.
The days are filled with choices in actions, each one an opportunity to teach a life lesson, or to act in a manner that inspires modeling from others. By carefully selecting the best decision we benefit ourselves, and by reflection, influence more than we realize.