Leading by Example

Why do we try to change those around us? Whether we are doing so because we are close to them and love them and therefore want the best for them or we are trying to just get them into our camp, to get them on our side. Why do some many of us push and push instead of just showing others what can be done by doing it ourselves? Why do we not lead by example more and push less? If we really want people around us to follow our example, especially those we love, that is exactly what we should be doing.

Just show people what can be done

If I want to show how much your life can improve by becoming more self-reliant, I need to live a more self-reliant lifestyle, wouldn’t you say? When I go out to my garden and harvest all the greens and vegetables that we are going to eat that night, that action says more than if I were to just come down on someone for depending too much upon the food system. If we have friends over and they ask why our vegetables taste so much better than what they get at the grocery store, I can tell them that it’s because we grow them. Not only do we just grow them, we grow them for the nutrition and flavor, and not just to withstand weeks of transportation like commercial growers do. We grow them for our benefit, not solely for profit. I can also tell them how they can do it too. I can show them some good ways to start out and tell them of other benefits of producing at least some of what they eat.

That goes a long way and can really interest someone. But telling them they’re wrong for not having garden or whatever the case may be, is a quick way to shut them down and stop the conversation. Pushing an idea when someone isn’t ready for it will do nothing but have the opposite effect than what you were going for. It will make them immediately recoil away from what you are telling them. It will further entrench them in what they have believed up to this point and you will get nowhere. I have been accused of pushing my ideas on others, but that’s just not true. If you are reading this today, there’s a good chance that you are receptive to the kind of stuff we talk about on this site. If you weren’t, you probably wouldn’t be here.

You can’t push a string                                                                                 

If someone is not ready to listen to a new idea or way of doing something, don’t push it on them. There is an old saying “you can’t push a string.” You can push and push, but the string will bend and fold and won’t go where you want it to. If someone isn’t ready to hear what you are saying, that’s what you’re doing, you’re pushing a string. No matter how much you want to keep pushing and trying to convince them of something, stop. Stop pushing. You have to pull the string. That means, if they’re interested, pull them along. Give them little bits of information and if they want to know more, they will let you know. And then give them more. And give them more. Pull them along as long as they are willing. As soon as they resist something, stop or you’ll be pushing again. Let them have that control. If I ask someone about how to, say, be a little more energy efficient in my life and they give me some ideas, but then proceed to puke information at me about how I am murdering polar bears if I drive a car or use electricity, then the conversation is over. It isn’t the information I was looking for. Even if I believed that my car was killing the planet and is the root of all evil, I might have been looking for ways to help that. But telling me the way I’m doing things is wrong? I’d tell them to go suck on a tailpipe. It’s just not the way to win people over.

Seeing before doing

Another thing about showing people what can be done is that they can see it in action without being fully invested in it. I can show someone how awesome it is to be able to go to the backyard and get everything I need for a big salad that I’m going to eat tonight. They will see the benefits right there and they might think about starting their garden. But up to that point, they haven’t had to lift a shovel or run a hoe. They just know how good it could be for them. If I show them a solar collector on my roof that heats water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before it even goes into the electric water heater, that might peak their interest. They would see the efficiency of it, the dollars that could be saved and they might think about doing something like that. But they can see the benefit of it before they do it themselves. They haven’t spent $1,200 on a project, hoping the end result will be a good one, they can see it in action now.

Just plant the seeds and the rest is up to them

For the most part, we want to plant seeds in people; little ideas, little bits of information that can sprout in them as they become more interested and seek more information for themselves. Not pushing people, but showing them what can be done does just that. It plants a seed in their mind that may or may not sprout. But whether or not it sprouts and becomes a reality in their life isn’t up to you or me, it’s up to them. They get to choose what to do with the information they been given, not us. And furthermore, we may never see that seed or idea come to fruition. That seed or one of those seeds planted may not sprout for 5 or 10 years. You may have lost touch with that person and years have gone by before that idea really took hold and he acts on it. But it was just a seed that you had planted and he may have even forgotten about until something triggered its growth. Maybe it was another idea that came along and watered it. We don’t always know when or if the seed will grow, we just keep planting those seeds. Living our lives and showing others the possibilities is a great way, and very libertarian way, of doing just that. Be an example to those around you by living your life your way, the rest is up to them.

So I will leave you guys with that. Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to Sick of the Systems to get new posts by email.

Until next time,

Stay free.

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