December 17. “The young do not follow our preachings – they follow us.” (Robert Brault)
When my children were young, we always put a high value on the dinner time conversations in our house. My wife and I would ask questions about their days, and talk about ours. At times it was an excited recounting of events that some of us had partaken in. Other times it was a cathartic unloading of the frustrations of the day. Always the conversations were there.
I don’t recall ever giving any speeches during those dinners. Maybe my children could recount how I stood up on a soap box from time to time and gave my thoughts of the world. I am not saying those things didn’t happen, I am just saying that to me they weren’t memorable.
These days it is more rare to get to have my children at the dinner table. They are all adults with lives of their owns. When we do sit to eat together, the conversations are still there, and now they are about what they are doing in their lives as adults.
The interesting thing to me, as I sit here reflecting this morning, is how often I seem to hear my own voice, or the voice of my wife coming out of one of them. When they talk about their work day, or what is happening in relationships in their lives, I start to hear the same tones, and even the same words I could have easily spoken all those years ago. The fact is that, in many ways, they are living their lives along the same patterns as my wife and I do.
My wife and I never sat down and put together a training class on how to get along in business, how to manage relationships, how to deal with our own emotions, or anything else. We didn’t write any books, or put on seminars for our children on these topics. Instead, we just did them, and showed them our examples.
The best teacher in the world is the example. I know from my own life that when I have observed how other people act it has had a far greater impact on me than if someone merely tells me something, or I read it in a book.
Thankfully, it would seem that I must have done a passable job at setting an example in life. Between my wife and I we must have shown, by our actions, how to live as productive, mostly-happy, caring adults. I know this because that is what I see in my children.
Today my reflection is on the example I have set in my life. I know that the example I set is a reflection of all those that were set for me along the way. I am thankful that I had great role models in life, and that I was able to set a good example to those around me. My work in life is far from done, and I know that the imprint I continue to leave is mostly done not by what I say, but by what I do.