We’ve all heard it, or some derivation, before. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule has been handed down through antiquity, from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, India, and Persia. It can be found, in some form or fashion, in every major religion or philosophy. People often adhere to it in the hopes of reciprocity, that is, “If I’m nice to you, you’ll be nice in return.” Parents and teachers use it to teach children empathy. I don’t know how many times I’ve caught myself asking my own daughters, “How would you like it if someone did that to you?”
It can also be a powerful tool in leadership.
Back in December, I blogged about Leading by Example, and mentioned the difference between being a boss and being a leader. It’s a common misconception that the two are synonymous. A boss is someone who’s position or title in an organization allows them to tell people what to do. They often have the power to reward and punish in order to enforce compliance. Being a leader, on the other hand, is much more than simply ordering folks around.
“The True Measure of Leadership is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less”
While there is no single trait that makes successful leaders, there are plenty of lists out there trying to boil it down to a manageable few. In his highly regarded book, John C. Maxwell discusses The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. One such law, The Law of Influence states, “The true measure of Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” An effective leader doesn’t need a title, nor leverage. They influence those around them to success. They inspire through word and through deed.
Which brings us back to The Golden Rule. If you truly wish to lead others, you must first lead the way. Telling them what to do just doesn’t have the impact that showing them does.
If you want others to treat you with respect, treat people respectfully.
If you want others to work hard, then work hard.
If you want others to be honest, then always tell the truth.
If you want others to be patient, then be patient.
Whether as a teacher, or as a parent, it’s important to remember that this leading by example thing can go both ways. I don’t know how many times I’ve witnessed one of my daughters do something, only to realize exactly where it came from. Be prepared for your students/children to reflect both your best and worst traits.
If you’re impatient, don’t be surprised when your student/child is impatient.
If you’re inconsiderate of others, expect your student/child to be inconsiderate of you.
If you lose your temper, get ready for your child’s tantrum.
If you have unhealthy eating/exercise habits…
As martial artists, we have the power to better our lives, and the lives of those around us. We can inspire one another to greater success on and off the mat. Consider all of the people we get to train with. Who is the most enjoyable to train with? Who is the most helpful or inspiring, and why? What kind of a training partner are you?
See you on the mats!