…as you say!

Be very careful when a naked person offers you a shirt – African proverb

First of all, how can someone give you something they don’t have themselves and secondly, why are they not wearing that shirt? Clearly, if it’s good for you, it will surely be good for them because you are both naked. It’s like food, if someone doesn’t want to eat something, but insists that you eat it; you get suspicious or eat it with discontentment in your heart knowing that this poor person is also hungry yet they are giving you all their food. The intention may be good, but the reception may not be entirely perceived in the same manner, it usually comes with a bit of an after taste if accepted at all. Parents may be an exception to the material application of this principle but not in its entirety.

A parent will go hungry for their children any day, however as the children grow older, they may not be as accepting of this sacrifice and will insist on sharing. The predicament comes when the parent lays out rules that they do not follow themselves. Most parents would say “do as I say and not as I do”. You use bad language, gossip, are untidy, stingy, lazy, etc. while preaching the opposite to your children. It’s not rocket science that your children will probably turn out like you. You cannot teach them something you don’t know yourself.

Another great example is a relationship. You must really be afraid of someone who doesn’t love themselves and yet claim they love you. This person overworks themselves, they don’t deal with hurt in their lives, tolerates disrespect from all and sundry, puts absolutely everyone and everything ahead of him/herself. They basically do not take care of their bodies and well being, either by living a risky lifestyle or engaged in other self destructive behavior. Now tell me how can this person give you love, which is; patient, kind, gentle, non-envious, etc.? Because of the inadequacy within themselves, their idea of love is distorted from the onset and what they consider love may be a very dysfunctional realty. Unfortunately you end up trying as hard as you can to “understand” this persons’ distorted definition of love and that is where abuse begins.

Unless someone does something themselves, it is not easy for anyone to follow their example. It is in our nature to judge others by their actions and only judge ourselves by our intentions. The world is not going to change by what you are planning to do, it is only what you actually do, and well so, that will change it. A manager, who knows absolutely nothing about the role and is not even trying to change, cannot expect you to shoot the lights out. That not only leaves you disgruntled, but you lose respect very quickly for that person. They don’t have the ‘work-hard’ shirt themselves, but they expect you to wear it, cleaned-and-ironed everyday. At times, the manager does manage to make you to comply, but, this usually comes through some intimidating re-enforcements. This is damaging in the long run, more to themselves than to you, interestingly.

Most importantly, we need to apply this principle on a very personal level and allow it to shape our characters. Before you expect something out of other people, please make sure you posses it yourself. No matter how many lies you tell yourself to believe that you are exhibiting certain noble traits, people can see right through your nakedness. You can fool some people sometimes, but not everyone all the time. It’s not good enough to think and speak your truth; you need to live it as well. Wearing the shirt is no easy task, I know, it takes intention, discipline and perseverance. We are not all born with brilliant traits, in fact we have had to learn these over time and the learning never stops. To build credibility, you need to do what is required of you, from yourself and towards those you have committed to deliver to. Doing as you have promised, when you promised it – consistently, will make others respect and consider you honorable. I read in one book that: Holiness is when what you think, what you do and what you say are in perfect harmony.

Self-leadership is key to you getting to the next level in life. How you lead yourself will determine how others perceive and treat you. It is absolutely necessary for us to be able to be great leaders; leaders of our homes, companies, children, teams, and the world.

Proverbs 18 vs 3

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity”

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