People will follow example and not advice

Nilesh Sancheti

The child extended her answer paper to her class teacher and enquired, "M' am! I am not able to understand what you have written beyond the margin line in my answer paper."The teacher took a glance at what she had written and said, "I have just written" - 'write your answers more legibly'."

We cannot afford to conduct ourselves as if people are not watching us. We are always on the stage and the world around us is remarkably perceptive. People learn much more from what they see than what they hear. The nerves that go from the eyes to the brain are far greater in number than the nerves that go from the ears. Hence, the visual impact is always greater than the auditory impact. That’s why people follow your example and not your advice.

The father reads out the scripture to child and explains the virtue of honesty. Later, while eating his breakfast, he instructs his child to tell the person on phone that he’s not at home. The child heard the virtue of honesty, but saw the liar in action. Unknowingly, the father has just given a license to the child to lie. When you ask people to lie for you, you have taught them to lie to you. Through every disrespectful fight that happens between husband and wife, they have issued a license to their children to disrespect them. To the eyes of your child, husband and wife were not fighting, but father and mother need not be respected – for, they don’t respect each other.

The role models in the book, the self-help philosophies taught in all the self-development programs, various mythological characters discoursed about – have little impact, compared to the ones people see in action. Moral science is never learnt from books, but by watching those who live around us. There is not much the “Father of the nation’ can do, if the ‘Father at home’ is not okay.

Your life, my life, the lives of each one of us will serve either as an example or as a warning to people around us. They need people who can ‘walk their talk’ and not those ‘who talk and then take a walk’. In the absence of character role models, children helplessly take the media propagated celebrities as their icons. In the absence of moral role models, children ape men who enjoy public adulations. If we can’t show them enough real life heroes, they will imitate the reel life heroes. How long are we going to show people the history books? Won’t it be so much better to show them living role models? How about a world where children do not have to look beyond their parents for role models?

For many people, especially our children, we are the only Quran they will read, the only Vedas they will see, the only Bible they will experience, the only Dharma they will follow and the only Dhammapada they will imbibe. I know, it is an awesome responsibility; but, that’s what leadership is all about.

The impact of the messenger is always greater than the mere message. Of course, nothing is as powerful as the message being the messenger, and the messenger being the message.

Nilesh Sancheti
Batch – 2002
Campus – IBS Pune

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