How To Inspire Others Without Saying A Word

Don’t underestimate the power of your example.

I’m often asked: Is example enough?

What do you think?

» Does the boss who says one thing and does another influence you?
» Does the person whose private life would destroy their public life seem like the type of person we want in leadership?
» Does the classroom, the lecture, the PowerPoint slides seem like the best way to learn?


We can all see where example is powerful. A positive example is more valuable than a positive statement. It’s powerful because it is belief in action. It’s inspirational. It models behavior that can be imitated.

It can be difficult to prove something you believe. It’s a lot easier to point to a moment where you acted on that belief. 

Here are three ways you can incorporate the power of example into your leadership and life.

See it > Hear it

There’s a great quote by Confucius (the master of quotable lines) that says: I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. The power of see will often make hear unnecessary. One of my favorite leadership mantras is people do what people see. Your example speaks louder than words.

Show it > Know it

Remember those special days in elementary school when it was time for “show and tell?” Little Bobby brought his pet snake in and everyone stood on his or her desk to get a better look (or to avoid the snake when Bobby let it loose). The only thing that made “show and tell” special was the “show!” It’s a whole different experience if Bobby is at the front of the classroom telling us about his pet snake.

Live it > Like it

Social media has created a culture of “liking” the way other people are “living.” While I enjoy seeing what other people are doing, the work they’re sharing, the ideas they’re posting (and I’ll press the “like” button when I can!) — I don’t want to forfeit my firsthand experiences because I’ve spent too much time enjoying the experiences of others secondhand. I want to encourage you to live your life more than liking the life of others. Don’t be the person at the party who is always pointing to what others are doing, having nothing to share from your own life.

“A person who lives right, and is right, has more power in silence than another has by words.” – Phillips Brooks

Share your experience: How has the power of someone else’s example made a difference in your own life?

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