The Power of Leading by Example
The juiciest conversations always happen after dark, once the kids are asleep, in hushed but passionate voices. In this case there was limited alcohol but an abundance of gourmet chocolate, in the safe company of dear friends.
The topic: What will we tell our kids when they’re older and the planet is on the brink of destruction? Will they be angry at us for not doing enough to save it for them? Did I, in fact, do everything I could?
Before I go on, here’s how this loops back to you and your business.
Choosing to work for ourselves is an act of defiance to a system that was build for obedient workers who follow the leader. We get to define our lives in ways we wouldn’t be able to in most traditional jobs. Consequently, we have to think more about what matters to us, and how we want to spend our precious hours. Even if you started your business out of necessity and not as an act of rebellion, the world is not designed for you to succeed. If your experience has been anything like mine, you’ve been wildly misunderstood and sometimes even excluded or unfriended (in real life) because of the alternative choices you’ve made. Hopefully you’ve also experienced whole new levels of awesome to balance it out, but it might not make the pain easier.
So, like it or not, you’re leading by example. People notice you. People wonder what you’re doing. Likely, they wonder why you’re able to pick up and go so easily, or why you seem so happy. This is the beauty and responsibility of entrepreneurship. They may look to you as a role model for how they can also join the world of the self-employed, or as a fellow business owner they may look to you for inspiration.
My intention today is to remind you of the visibility you have and the influence you exert even if you don’t know it. We are all leading by example.
So what will you do with this powerful tool, now that you know you have it? Here’s the list I came up with, at 11:30pm with my friends as witness. I share it for the sole reason of reminding myself that my impact isn’t negligible and that I can stand proudly when my daughter asks what I did to help.
What I’m doing:
· As a Business — I’m learning and implementing ethical and conscious business practices that put people before profits and avoid manipulation. I try to be aware of the pitfalls of my industry and do my best to hold coaches to a higher standard so we can keep helping people safely. I use my profits to donate to causes I believe in. I know that by helping business owners be happier, have more work/life balance, and overall meaningful work satisfaction that it will have a spillover effect on their life and the lives of others.
· As a Parent — I model transparent and open conversation, the recognition of emotions, and the safety of our family. I teach life skills, consequences of actions, being thoughtful of others, and listening to the body’s wisdom.
· As a Friend — I talk about subjects like money and politics, so my friends can feel safe doing so too. I give the benefit of the doubt and generally aim to follow Brené Brown’s BRAVING framework for trust.
· As a Citizen — I prioritize voting for parties that support social, less capitalist initiatives and I support local and individually owned businesses however I can, especially local farms and artisans. I avoid purchasing from corrupt businesses like Amazon whenever possible, even when it’s inconvenient or more expensive to do otherwise. I shop mindfully to minimize my waste and carbon footprint, choosing longevity over affordability.
· As a Human — I seek out support for my mental health in the form of coaching and therapy so I don’t put my baggage on others. I prioritize educating myself on diversity and anti-racism, and putting my learning into practice, even when there is misunderstanding from loved ones and a risk to my relationships. I try to make the world a better place whenever I get the chance, even if it’s just with a smile or kind gesture.
And still, is that enough? Will my daughter be angry that I didn’t spend more of my time protesting or fighting? Probably. I know I’m frustrated at the generations before me for making this mess.
I want her to know I intentionally chose to be surrounded by nature and see the goodness in the world. I chose to raise her with hope and with the knowing that small choices have an impact, on the planet and the people around us.
I know the ripple effect matters and my most impactful tool is leading by example. If you discover something more powerful, please let me know (seriously).
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