Teacher? Or Role Model?

Last night was gorgeous. In the early evening hours, the temperature settled into the low 60s, and it seemed the entire neighborhood turned out to walk, sit on the porch, or play with their kids.

I sat outside for a while watching my neighbor conduct a rite of passage with his daughter. He was teaching the 7-year-old to ride a bike. Only a few short years ago that was me holding on to the back of the bike while my son or daughter did their best to resist the gravitational force of every tree near the sidewalk.

Teaching is a beautiful thing…when it’s intentional. But most teaching that we do takes place accidentally.

At home, parents spend 18 years conducting intentional teaching to their kids about the basics:

  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Pick up after yourself
  • Shut off the lights once you leave the room
  • Don’t curse

Of course, none of this learning takes if the parents model eating and living like a slob, leaving the lights on in every room, and cursing like…like someone who curses a lot.

Likewise, bosses spend time intentionally teaching the corporate handbook to new employees:

  • Never fudge on your expense report
  • You owe the company for the 40 hours of pay you receive
  • Remember one of the core corporate values is “mutual respect”
  • The tools provided to you are for work and not to be used for personal use

This is most effective if the boss doesn’t brag about putting personal taxi fares on his expense report. And doesn’t come in late and leave early nearly every day. And doesn’t refer to the females in the office as “chicks” and “honeys.” And he doesn’t forward email attachments containing offensive materials.

Never stop teaching others with intentionality. Some of it will take. But think about what your actions are telling others. The example of your behavior drowns out any training session you might have planned.

What do you want to teach others this week?

How are you going to model the lessons for others?

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Gerry says:

    Interesting post.

    Speaking of teaching, accidental or intentional… what’s with the seven-year-old girl riding around without a helmet? Her parents are sending a pretty blatant message about how little they value the health and safety of their own flesh and blood.

    1. Great eye, Gerry. It proves the point about the power of the incidental and accidental lessons we teach others that are contrary to what we want them to learn.

  2. Jocelyn says:

    Great wisdom, Scott. Thanks for graciously pointing out our accountability to consistency.

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