Friday, September 18, 2009

The Annoyance of Good Example

Mark Twain once said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example,” and though it seems quite an odd statement on the surface, it’s so very true when we take a closer look. We often hate being caught out by someone else’s stoic example when we could’ve done the very same thing, in fact, we might’ve even thought so. Ah, the itch of regret!

Good examples place heat on situations. They make would-be leaders stand up and take notice, as if these leaders in fact sensed their own inadequacy.

Role models who act according to the strength of their designed role are more of a rarity these days than the norm, so they do stand out. But, then, there are many. We’re all finding ourselves in these roles, and certainly we notice others who act as good examples when they ‘put us to shame,’ so to speak.

The common wisecrack used to be, ‘Nobody likes a smart-aleck. And it seems people with good intent are sometimes fashioned as those with bad, certainly in regard to those with a guilty conscience.

But to get back to the original point of Twain’s saying, we know that being a good role model is the way to lead not only others, but also ourselves. For instance, who sees when no one is looking? (Well... we do, of course.)

The good example motivated from without is a good thing, but the good example motivated from within is a great thing, for here we have a welling reservoir of good intent—a self-sustaining spring that promises to go on everlasting.

And this model of “modelhood” not only goes on, it flourishes in many directions. Surely there are few better things than being a good role model. Not only for others, but for ourselves also, this is a model for growth and life.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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