Think of all the teachers you have had in your life – those that held the title of teacher, boss or parent and those that held no title at all. As children we had many formal teachers, yet some of the more impressive life lessons we learned probably came from our peers. Who taught you how to be a friend? Who taught you how not to be a friend? Where did you learn what music to listen to or how to dress as a teenager – going out on a limb here, I am going to guess it wasn’t your parents! Who taught you how to treat your employees? Did you learn more from your best boss or your worst in terms of motivating those around you? What lessons have you learned from your significant other? As a take charge person I have relied on my hubby to teach me to enjoy each moment in life instead of rushing onto the next project. My children have taught me many lessons over the years and a few of the most important have been to take care of myself so I have energy to take care of them, to be supportive instead of being judgmental, to give others the space to find their own answers and how to love unconditionally. As you think about the things you have learned over the years, how many of them have come from formal teaching situations?
So what is it that you teach to others everyday? Hopefully you can honestly say that you teach others to live a valuable life. Can you say though that your actions teach others what you desire them to learn from you? Do you know what you want others to learn from you? In our professional life this becomes particularly resonant as those who work for and with you actively
look to you for guidance. Employees actually tend to model their boss as they look for cues from your behavior to mold themselves into better employees. If you have any trouble in this area you may need to think very carefully about what you are teaching. For many of us we must also think about our clients – what do your clients learn from you?
To answer this question we must return to our core values. What are your top four core values? How do you live them each day, and are they evident to those around you without you explaining them? By definition your core values must run deep in your personality. They must be clear to others through your actions and words, and by extension be a means of teaching others about this value. For example, if kindness is a core value of yours then you teach others by being kind to them, by actively showing kindness to your employees, family and your waitresses. You refuse to be put in situations where you must be unkind to others to meet your goal and you know how to be kind to yourself. When we see a person who lives this core value of kindness to its fullest, it inspires us to be kind – in much the same way as we work harder for a boss who demonstrates the willingness to work hard themselves. What do you teach through living your core values and is this what you intend to teach. If not, how can you change your actions to demonstrate your values?
Remember, everything you do instructs others. We live in a social and interconnected world and your actions truly impact the choices of others. Choose to actively teach those in your circle of influence by setting an example of the values you have chosen for yourself.
Refer to your list of core values that you have posted somewhere conspicuous. (If you have not created your core values yet call me to discuss the process.) For each core value commit to an action you can demonstrate daily that will teach others this value through your personal example. In the comments below or in a confidential email to me list these commitments and the corresponding value.