Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer
Dear Style & Substance:
I recently read a quote: “Everybody’s life is either a warning or an example.” What are your thoughts about this quote and what is your advice on creating a life that is an “example”?
That is a great quote! … and one that each may interpret a little differently. We often think of taking a side, in this case being an “example”, and sticking with it. But unfortunately, in our human-ness, we may straddle the line from time to time.
We can probably all agree that we have been both, but the idea is to fall more in the “example” column of life.
Start observing and listening to people and evaluate for yourself what is a “warning” and what is an “example”. This is not to be achieved by tomorrow or by year’s end; however, we believe that we can get a little closer every day. The daily choices made throughout a day can lead to living a life that serves as an “example” of personal values in action.
Day to day remind yourself of your best and true self and stay on that course. Being “better” is a sequence of getting off course and getting reoriented in the right direction. A few “warning” behaviors along the way that are corrected lead us to more “example” behaviors.
Everything is important. The choices you make about what to eat and your activity levels are the foundations of your health. The words you say or left unsaid create your relationships. Sometimes saying nothing, but just acknowledging is the best response.
We can all think of “warnings” we see in the choices and behaviors of ourselves and others. As you have heard us say before, debriefing a meeting, a day, a conversation, a relationship is essential in living the life of “example”. If you are thinking about this quote, chances are you don’t have “big” things to change, but some tweaking to do.
To live your life as an example you should define and clarify who you want to be.
Have one or several role models of who you would like to become or behaviors you would like to emulate. Use their traits to model yourself after. Sometimes it is a different role model in the business world, the parenting world, the friend world and the relationship world! Think of what these people would do or would have done in different situations that you have encountered.
Give sincere compliments and accept them graciously. A compliment, most genuine, is about how someone acted or responded and is said without fishing for one in return.
“I loved the way you handled that”, “That was a tough situation and you really stepped up”, “Thanks so much for coming to my rescue”… Say thank you, when someone does little things, not just big things. You are then contributing to the good examples that others are modeling.
Create a ritual as you walk out of the house every morning. These rituals can be serious: a prayer or meditation about a quality you want to cultivate such as honesty, integrity, strength, or compassion. Wear a bracelet or post a reminder of qualities you are striving to achieve. Choose a word every day to guide your interactions for that day. Some rituals can be much more lighthearted, but encouraging just the same. Look in the mirror and say to yourself, “You can do this!”
We can all get off track from time to time. Living your life as an “example” and not a “warning” takes reflection and attention.
A S K
Style & Substance
creative life coaching solutions
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org