Leading by Example, Living with Integrity

Last night, I overheard permanent roommate talking with our daughter, and at one point, he said, “Set a good example, because the other kids are watching.”  That’s good advice.

Yet something about it snagged in my mind, and as I’m prone to do, I chewed on it the rest of the evening as I went about cleaning up the kitchen and closing down the house for the night.  Set a good example… the other kids are watching.

I want to lay this disclaimer out first: truly, I’m not picking on my man.  He’s a fantastic father, a great guy, incredibly creative, and a genius, in my opinion.  We have a lot of fun together, and I cannot highlight enough how blessed I am to have him, to know he’s going to be here, trusting him to have my back, to look out for our daughters and our future together.  To have the opportunity to overhear this conversation at all, meant that they were having that conversation, and he was actively engaging with our daughter.  Some moms would all but kill for that.  So please don’t read this blog as criticism; my mind just works on words this way sometimes, and these are the results of that mental digestion.

Now, how about instead of behaving in a certain way to set a good example because others are watching… how about we do it because it’s the right thing to do?

I’m all for good examples.  I believe the best way to learn something is to watch a master at work, to come alongside one who is more experienced and more skilled and emulate what works for them.  Teaching and mentoring are integral parts of my person.  I’ve been immeasurably blessed by others who have taken time to model an honorable life for me to replicate in my own way.  And my hope is that I will be able to give back by helping someone else along their path.

So my point here is not to belittle role models.  I guess what is tugging at my thoughts is that merely doing what’s right because others are watching feels too shallow.  It doesn’t quite reach down into the depths of true integrity.  It sounds too self-serving, missing the real point.  Which is simply this: do right because it is the right thing to do.

Regardless of who is watching, regardless of peer pressure or approval ratings, do the right thing.  To choose to do the right thing strictly to set a good example implies that if you had no audience you would be free to do something less.

I know, I know… splitting hairs.  I am getting technical, but I feel strongly that words matter, that technical accuracy is important, even in the subtle shades.  Bear with me, or if it’s all too picky, skip this post; it’s okay, really.

In summary, a good example is always a good thing, no question about that.  And even better, is when that good example is modeled by someone who is true in character and largely unswayed by public opinion.  Someone who knows the right, chooses the right, and does the right, no matter who may, or may not, be watching.  This person operates under a personal honor code, knowing she will have to live with herself, that at the end of the day when all the critics and fans go home, her own personal moral compass will still point true north.

Maybe the best way to say it is, lead by example and live with integrity.  Then not only will you be modeling good behavior, you’ll be doing so for the best of reasons: not merely because they’re watching, but because it’s right.



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