Whether we claim the title or not, we are all leaders. Yes, YOU are a leader. You’re a leader in your home, the workplace, and your community. Each day, everyone around you is watching what you do and listening to what you say. It’s our duty, as leaders, to ensure the example we’re setting is a message worth spreading.It’s our duty, as leaders, to ensure the example we're setting is a message worth spreading. Click To Tweet
Sending the right message is simple. If you want to change the world, if you want to change your family, you must first change yourself. If you want your children to be kind, be kind to others. If you want your employees to be generous, be generous to them. If you want your friends to be more grateful, share your own gratitude.If you want to change the world or just change your family, you must first change yourself. Click To Tweet
In the words of Gandhi,
“Be the change you wish to see in this world.”
This is such a common phrase that it seems cliché. But as Shay Carl said in his interview with Tim Ferriss, “The secrets to life are hidden behind the word ‘cliché’.”The secrets to life are hidden behind the word ‘cliché’. - Shay Carl Click To Tweet
The secret Gandhi is telling us is to lead by example. To shut our mouths and do the work. That unless you’re practicing what you’re preaching, I don’t want to hear your opinion.Unless you're practicing what you're preaching, I don't want to hear your opinion. Click To Tweet
Or as others have said:
- “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi
- “Let him who would move the world first move himself.” ― Socrates
- “May your life preach more loudly than your lips.” ― William Ellery Channing
- “When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change – So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I might have even changed the world.” – Inscription on a Tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey
I imagine you already knew Gandhi’s secret. But knowing and doing are two different things. I’ll be the first to admit that I need more practice in this area.
While I’ll never be perfect, I can train myself to be better. I find that it’s easy for me to give and lead by example when it’s scheduled or automatic. If it’s not, I’m so focused on the task at hand that I miss the opportunity to be the change.
This requires that I focus on two areas.
- Pick one thing and create a habit of leading by example.
- Slow down and recognize the opportunities to do so.
I recognized the need to slow down and be present while running errands recently. While waiting in line at the grocery store, I noticed the woman in front of me watching her total and putting things back. Normally, I would be checking my emails, lists or agenda on my phone. But that day I was present. I was paying attention. She kept grapes and tuna but put back bread, cereal, and other items.
I began wondering what she would do with the tuna since she didn’t have bread. Then I thought about how I would never even eat that bread. I thought about how much I spent last week on a loaf of organic artisanal sprouted wheat bread. And how we ate 4 slices before tossing the rest in the freezer.
I thought about how blessed I am to be able to eat what I want. I have the freedom to have whatever I want, whenever I want. While the woman in front of me didn’t have 98 cents for a loaf of bread.
My husband, Jer, and I enjoy the life we live because we’ve been intentional. We’ve worked hard and have been exceptionally disciplined. But there are many factors which we didn’t choose.
We were born in a country which affords us opportunities and a lifestyle that are less attainable in other parts of the world. We were both the oldest children in our families which attributed to our thirst for adventure and independence. We both had grandmothers who believed that we were the smartest and most capable people on the planet. We grew up in a time when education was a better and cheaper. And although we did our fair share of stupid, we didn’t make any devastating mistakes. We’ve been disciplined and intentional, but have also been very blessed.
After the woman left the checkout, I looked at what she left behind. I asked the cashier to add the items that were the most nutritious to my bill. The cashier rang them up and I handed them to the woman I had been watching. The look on her face told me she was shocked, grateful and touched. She thanked me profusely on the verge of tears. I felt a little embarrassed that I had never been present enough to have this idea before.I tell this story not to brag, but to show you the impact our actions have on the world around us. Click To Tweet
I tell you this story not to brag and or to seek validation. I tell this story to show you the impact our actions have on the world around us. How whether we recognize it or not, we are ALL leaders.
By being present and sharing a few dollars of my grocery budget with a stranger, I shared many messages without saying a word. I shared a message of hope with a woman who was struggling to get by. I told her that she was important and that everything will work out. I set an example of generosity for the cashier and the people around me. I demonstrated that in spite of all the hatred and evil in the world, goodness prevails. I reminded myself how incredibly blessed and grateful I am. I reminded myself of the power of being present.In spite of all the hatred and evil in the world, goodness prevails. Click To Tweet
Do you think you could do better at being the change? Would you like to improve your leadership skills and be a better boss, parent and community member? For the next 30 days, I challenge you to change the world through your actions.
I’ve identified 5 steps to help you get started.
5 Simple Steps to Be the Change
1 – Define Your Mission
What change do you want to see more than anything? Perhaps you want to end poverty? Or cure childhood obesity? I just want people to be decent human beings. Decide on one thing that you will focus on.
2 – Create Reminders
Keep your mission top of mind. Remind yourself each morning, noon and night. Set a calendar reminder or an alarm if you need to.
3 – Be Present
Be present and recognize opportunities to be the change. Put down your phone, turn off your internal dialogue and pay attention to what’s going on around you.
4 – Build Habits
Habits are created through daily action. At least once each day, find the opportunity to set an example for your cause.
5 – Inspire Others
Inspire and encourage others to do the same. When you lead by example there’s no need to shout it from the rooftops. When people see they joy you create by being the change, they’ll want to know how they can do it too.
I invite you to share your ideas with the awesome change makers in our Facebook group. Use the hashtag #bethechange. Let’s become better leaders together.
Leadership is about choices. You can choose to sit and complain about how horrible the world is and listen to everyone around you do the same. Or you can choose to lead by example and change it, one tiny step at a time. The choice is up to you. Which do you choose?
What have you accomplished by being the change?
Share in the comments below.