“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it’s the only thing.”– Albert Schweitzer
I love this quote and it fits so perfectly into what I’ve been considering this week, about change and the changes we make in our lives and our world. We live in a world where youtube influencers show us the most polished versions of their beautiful lives – but not the gritty, horrible breakdowns they might also have on the bad days. We live in a world where politicians and media figures are put on a pedestal of perfection that we may know in theory they could not possibly live up to, but then we crucify them when it turns out they’ve been deliberately hiding their worst parts from the limelight.
As a religious and moral leader myself, I know how flawed I am, and how flawed my colleagues are in the average every-day sort of way, and it still stings when a news report comes out about someone I’ve known or heard of, some clergy scandal of abuse that goes beyond the pale, beyond the ‘people are flawed, no one is perfect’ and into ‘that’s abusive behavior and you have no right to inflict that on others’.
And into this fog of media masks and perfect pedestals, Albert Schweitzer’s words still ring true – it is the example of others that influences us the most, for better or for worse. And so the best thing we can possibly do – whether you happen to be a religious and moral leader as I am, or a youtube influencer, or a politician, or a movie star – is to actually keep working on yourself. Keep growing as a person. Keep going to therapy. Keep having those honest conversations that get so real it’s crazy. Keep becoming better this year, than last year, so much so you can see the differences. Keep aging like a fine wine. Keep becoming the best version of yourself that you can manage, even if it means you have to go back on what you strongly declared was so very true, last year.
Last year, you didn’t know what you know this year. And it’s okay to change your mind. Next year, someone may thank you for doing just that.