We all add to–or take away from– the lives of everyone we meet. All the time, whether we know it or not, we serve as an example for the people around us.
That can exciting–or frightening.
Deep inside, many of us don’t believe that we can have a positive influence on others. How can we be a good example, when we have done many things that are not very good?
But, we don’t choose to be an example. We just are one.
Whether we think we are or not. And even if we don’t want to be.
“Most people don’t accept that they are an influence either improving or damaging others.” (Richelle E. Goodrich)
Do People Really Notice?
If you wonder if this is true, that you are in fact serving as an example much of the time, think of all the people you encounter every day:
- Acquaintances who know you as that nice person who always shares a smile, or as the jerk who rarely gives them the time of day.
- Co-workers that would like to learn from you, but if ignored talk about you behind your back.
- Friends who want to be like you, including emulating your bad habits.
- Your spouse that knows the real you, the “you” that no one else sees.
- Your kids who will grow up to be like you.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” (Albert Schweitzer)
Serving as an example all the time seems to put us under a lot of pressure. Are we supposed to spend our lives acting, trying to artificially impress everyone around us?
How Anyone Can Be a Good Example
Actually, we serve as a more effective example when we are totally open and authentic.
That includes letting people see who we really are, including our faults, as we:
- Honestly admit our mistakes, as people can accept someone who is trying to improve.
- Humbly ask for forgiveness when we need to, which encourages compassion in return.
- Openly share our troubles, by so doing touching others who may have the same issues.
- Let others see we are willing to seek help, which gives them courage to do the same.
- Unabashedly lean on God, thus showing others that faith is real and hope is possible.
You see, even our mistakes can help set a positive example. And our wandering search for meaning in life may provide comfort to those who share similar issues and questions.
“Don’t try to be perfect. Just try to be an excellent example of being human.” (Tony Robbins)
In life, one of the best ways to be of service to others is to try to set a positive example. But it also works to simply be authentic and share our life, good and bad, with those around us.
Everyone can be a good example. Even when we think we aren’t good enough.
Question: What experience can you share that may be of benefit to others, even if what you did may not have been very good?
Action: Do something today, even if small, to be a good example.