Life can be such a wonderful teacher if you’re open to learning. I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks back called Everyone Is Watching and how important it is to lead by example. Something happened recently that was a brilliant reflection of this in my own life — without me even knowing it.

I’m an early riser. I like being awake when the rest of the world is still sleeping. With a young family, this time is sacred to me. I can get up early and work on myself before the hustle and bustle of our regular family routine kicks in. I have some simple healthy habits that I practice every day.

My typical routine is to rise at 5:30 a.m. I meditate, write in my journal and either read something inspirational for about 30 minutes or do something creative before I get the rest of my day started. It helps me begin the day with a really solid mindset. Then, I wake up my boys (7 and 5) at 7:00 a.m and I go into ‘Dad mode’.

One morning not too long ago, I heard the telltale patter of little feet coming down the hallway. I glanced at the clock only to realize it was about 6:30 a.m.

Those little rascals, I thought. What are they doing out of bed so early?

When I asked them that exact question, they answered in the only way children can: “We ran out of sleep, Daddy.”

Immediately followed by: “What are you doing, Daddy?”

I couldn’t help but smile. Their innocent way of explaining why they’d woken up early was beautiful and it immediately dissolved any annoyance I had at having my routine changed. I explained to the boys that I meditate, journal and read every morning to create a good start to the day.

They surprised me with their next question:

“Can we read with you?”

Always ready to encourage my children to read, I answered of course, and they ran off to get their school books.

Even before they came back, I was becoming aware of something magical unfolding. Rocco, my older son, has been somewhat resistant to reading since he started school. The fact that he wanted to read — most likely because Daddy was doing it — was a huge revelation for me.

I was providing an example of a healthy habit without even realizing it. There was no push from me to get him to read. It was a natural desire and curiosity that emerged inside him to want to read — because he’d seen me doing it and something inside him clicked.

Because of who I was being, it directly impacted what my sons were doing. This is an important distinction that can really serve your whole life if you understand and practice it.

We all sat there on the sofa. It was such a lovely moment. Rocco read his book and Enzo sounded his letters and words out loud (he’s still learning), I thought about how showing instead of telling was making such a difference. Telling a child who doesn’t particularly like reading is a challenge. Showing that child what you can gain by reading is much more effective.

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

It was a frequent quote from my mother. You may have heard similar during your upbringing, perhaps? Usually, it means we want people to follow our words, not necessarily our actions. It’s the polar opposite of leading by example, and I always used to challenge people in my life who said that but acted differently, even when I was little.

But what happens when your words and your actions are in conflict? What effect does that have on the people around you?

If you’re constantly after your team members to be on time for meetings but then you stroll in five minutes late, what is the message you’re giving to them?

If you insist on prompt communication with clients, but ignore the emails from your own team, what is the message?

If you tell your team that they should all respect each other, but then you talk about them behind their backs, what is the message?

If you tell your children to be kind to each other and then always argue with your partner, what is the message?

Your words and your actions need to be in alignment. That’s what you signed up for when you chose leadership.

Always be conscious that others around you are paying attention to what you do. It could be because you’re the boss or their father or their friend — but in some way they respect you and look up to you.

Raise your own self-awareness so that the message you are sending out is consistent. Think about how you can provide a healthy example for the people around you to follow because it will be far more powerful and effective than the ‘Do as I say not as I do’ strategy. And, as with everything in your life, you get to choose how you show up each day. The power is in your hands to create the example you desire — one tiny moment at a time.

Practice being vs. doing. You’ll see more rewards than you can imagine both inside yourself and outside yourself.

Love and wellness,

David.

P.S. A big thank you to everyone who attended my annual Get Clarity event last week. Such a great day and I appreciate you all playing full out to help get clear about what you want to create in your life in 2019.