One of the gifts of coaching others is that it forces me to be on my best behavior. If I am spiraling around in anger or self-pity, how can I expect others to act in any better? How can I teach others how to get there if I am not walking the talk? Focusing on helping others, forces me to be my very best and not just on a surface level.
Ever hear the saying, “Do as I say not as I do”? It is unfortunately easy to point to clergy, politicians, and gurus of every sort who say one thing, and do another. It is easy to tell others what to do. We all can share a plethora of platitudes and can point to all the things we should be doing. But to speak the best way to live and to actually live that way are two different things. Throughout my life I have met individuals and studied seemingly elevated public figures whose daily interactions did not live up to the words they shared. We are human so living true to our words can be hard.
Walking the talk takes courageous vulnerability. I remember a troubled friend of mine who constantly complained about the government and what it was doing wrong. He was certain he could fix the political system and would share with anyone listening his views on what should be done. Yet, his own life was a mess. When I confronted him on this, his sheepish response was that it is easier to fix the government than his own family. The government was “easy” for him to fix because it was external to him. He didn’t have to address himself to fix the way government was run because he was not part of it. To fix his own life, however, meant that he needed to be vulnerable. He needed to take a deep and courageous look at his own self to fix his thinking and relationships. For many of us, this is too hard.
That is why I am blessed to coach. If I am to truly help others, I need to not only know the path but to walk it to the best of my ability. Being a role model gives me the strength to embrace my ideal life. I am far from perfect, but in taking on the role of mentor, I do my best every day to do my best every day. Sometimes I don’t have enough strength to make a change myself, but when I know others are watching or that my actions can influence the growth of someone else, I can find courage to move forward. One of my current challenges is to finally and completely give up caffeine as it is a destructive food for me. If left to my own devices, it is easy to give in to temptation. Besides, who cares? I am just hurting my own body, not anyone else. But when I think of my friends who are also trying to abstain, I know that if I give in, it could make them lose hope. I want to be a beacon for them. And in focusing on doing it for more than just myself, I find that I have more resolve to make things happen.
For those of you raising children, you also have the opportunity to be a role model for those you love. For the rest of you, look to all those you interact with, employees, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, can you embrace the role of mentor to help them see a new way to live? What are ways you believe we should be living, and are you walking the talk? Can you release your bad habits to be a beacon to others?