Set An Example
Monday August 30, 2010

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If your actions inspire
others to dream more,
learn more, do more
and become more,
you are a leader.”
-John Quincy Adams

As children are heading back to school to take on another year of academia, challenges, new experiences and opportunities, the question of what makes a leader is something that lept to my mind.  After all, while parents have a tremendous influence, the world outside of the home is also full of voices wanting to be heard, people who want attention and young ears that are easily influenced.

While some are involved in sports, and others in drama or the orchestra, what is it that influences someone else to adopt a certain behavior?  A coach, a teacher, peers? Words fly around in all of our world’s constantly from all sorts of people from all seats of positions in society.  Students will hear teachers, adults will hear their boss’s voice and colleagues, we all will hear the words of the media in some form or another, and family and friends who are part of everyone’s world, but what prompts us to act in a different way than we already are?

John Quincy Adams states it quite eloquently and simply above I believe. It is the actions that child imitate more so than the words they hear. Think about what you tend to follow for a moment. A speaker you are listening to preaches action and volunteering, but while on your drive home you witness someone stop and get out of their car to help a stranger in need due to a stalled engine in the middle of the intersection. Which instance would inspire you more to immediate action?

Another example might be a professor who is genuinely respectful of each of their students, welcoming them as they walk in the door each morning, validating their thoughts as they are shared and letting everyone be heard versus, a professor who preaches on endless about diversity and acceptance, yet raises an eyebrow of disdain at the mere mention of certain controversial topics. While both may be speaking and lecturing in class, only one is leading and is doing so by what is being done, not by what is being said.

More importantly, how are you living your life? Are you living passionately? Or are you just making it through the day and venting continuously to anyone who will listen? Are you trying to see the glass half full and working to achieve a life that while not a reality right now, could be if the effort is put forth?

Think about the message you are sending out to the universe, to the people around you, to your family and friends, co-workers and, if you have them, children. What is it saying? And is it worth following?

Better yet, ask yourself would you follow someone like you?

Here’s to making today a day full of beautiful actions that anyone would gladly want to follow. Have a wonderful Monday.

10 thoughts on “Set An Example

  1. What an amazing post! The quote nails it. Often times I am saddened by the role models many children are selecting to look up to. Celebrities who walk around with a chip on their shoulder, abusing substances, being disrespectful, and using foul language. I know many say they didn’t sign up for that job, but isn’t it important for us all as a society to put our best foot forward? To show respect to our fellow neighbor? This post is a lovely way for us to slow down and think, are we shining the way we would like to.

  2. This post is so moving and i’m especially drawn to the paragraph where you ask ‘how are you living your life’. As an international student influenced by all my travels and all the people i’ve met and things i’ve learnt, i’m always fighting a constant battle with myself because on the one hand, i have my own ideas and ideals; but on the other hand, i have a traditional background that has certain expectations

    When i finish my essay tomorrow i’ll be spending some time dwelling on this amazing post of yours, i’ve already saved myself a few links from your site that i’d love to read more slowly later 🙂

  3. Love this post. As teachers we are constant role models and sometimes I admit to not wanting that burden. But you’re right – it’s not about how others see us and our affect on them, but how we see ourselves and how we live our own lives.
    Hope your first day of school is wonderful! 🙂

  4. Excellent post and perfect timing in my case. Last night I was meeting with an advisory committee I am involved with and how we can get college women to project themselves in better ways. Thank you for sharing.

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