The power of your example

May 14, 2012

Authenticity, Connection

Never underestimate the power of your example.  -Barack Obama

I’m sure President Obama is not the first person to say this, but he said it today during his commencement speech at Barnard College. It was a fantastic speech, nuggets of which I may write about later, but this particular bit of advice hit me hardest.

I write a lot about following your passion and finding your authenticity, which often mean fighting conventional wisdom and charting a new, scary course. What I need to consider more fully is the impact of this behavior on others.

When you want to do something difficult or different, weird or wild, unusual or upstream, do it. Do it not only for yourself. Do it for the unknown others who are on the edge and need to feed on the courage that is your example.

People say: Lead by example. But that doesn’t really convey the same message to me. Feels forced and calculated. Just do the thing you want to do but are afraid to, or the thing that feels out of reach. Stick your toe out a little farther than everyone else. When you do that, you are the example.

And when it gets hard, keep going. Obama also said today: Perseverance is learned. When we see others pushing forward, never quitting, we are more likely to think we can do it too.

Persevere. Even through failure. You can’t know all the ways your example is encouraging others.

When it gets tough and lonely, when you consider slowing down or giving up or falling back into a familiar, easy pattern, think outside yourself. You may not know it but there are people out there counting on you. They need to see your power, tenacity and fearlessness. They need to see you do the hard, right thing. They need to see you struggle to accomplish something meaningful so they’ll know they can, too.

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2 Comments on “The power of your example”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Is this for me? Love you sister.


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