Leading by example

The one factor that distinguishes a good leader from a bad one is his ability to lead by example. World leaders, politicians, people at the helm of affairs, teachers and even today’s parents are in gross neglect of not walking the talk. People no longer practise what they preach. Presently, it is common to see a self-serving man prescribing to others what he would never think of doing himself.

 Yet, this attribute of inculcating in ourselves, what we would like to see in others is an important aspect in reaching self-mastery and in making a significant impact on the world around us. An internationally acclaimed man who achieved this in his life time and continues to inspire several others after his death is our very own Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation. An interesting incident in his life explains the point very persuasively.

A lady, along with her daughter who had grown into the habit of eating lots of sweets, went to Gandhi for advice. “Bapu, can you please help my daughter in getting rid of this habit of eating sweets?” she pleaded. Gandhi immediately requested her to come back after a month. The lady thus returned after a month hoping for a solution. Much to her chagrin, Gandhi once again sent her back asking her to come back in another month’s time. This routine continued until six months went by.

Finally, when the duo returned, Gandhi very plainly advised her not to eat too much of sweets as it would contribute towards ill health. The lady puzzled by the plainness questioned, “Bapu, you could have advised her this six months back?” To this Gandhi replied, “The fact is, I too have a sweet tooth and tend to eat lots of sweets. It took me six long months to get over this habit. Now that I have overcome the habit, I feel fit to advise your daughter!”

In a world where it is so much easier to point fingers at others, changing ourselves is the need of the hour. Self-study and self-renewal is vital to the full development and growth of every individual at every stage of his life. Gandhi said it so powerfully, “He, who is unable to rule over self, can never really succeed in ruling over others.”

Starting with oneself is indeed the much-needed and the right start in moving towards any reformation. As Gandhi would say, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world.

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