It’s easy to think that no one’s watching us.
It’s safe and comfortable to think that what we do doesn’t affect others. In fact, what we do does affect others, whether it’s our kids, our partners, our pets, our friends, or our co-workers. I’ve often heard people say jokingly, “If you really knew how little people paid attention to you, you’d be disappointed.” That sounds good in theory, but in reality, we are always an example of how to live in the world, whether we like it or not.
The first time I really understood this was when I returned home from a short business trip a few years ago. There was a lovely message on my voicemail from someone who had heard me speak at an event several weeks earlier. Her message was simply: “You’re amazing. I caught a glimpse of you in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport when you were having trouble with the gate agent. Sorry I didn’t get to say hello, but I noticed how well you handled what could have resulted in a really bad outcome. The next thing I knew, you and the agent were smiling and chatting. Bravo for walking like you talk.”
The idea that I had been observed without knowing it was a little unsettling. Then my mind quickly switched to gratitude; I’d been caught doing what was perceived as the right thing – maybe once, twice, ten times, a hundred times? More important, it made me question how often I’d been caught having a tantrum in public when I didn’t get my way. How many times have I been overheard being rude to people who were only doing their jobs? It’s food for thought.
There are some people who will quickly stand up and say, “I don’t care what people think about me.” They say, “There is way too much emphasis on what others think” and “It’s not my responsibility to be a role model for the world’s kids.” Or a favorite saying is, “What you think of me is none of my business.” While generally speaking that may be true, in reality, as long as we must coexist with others, to some extent what they think of us does matter. Like it or not, we are role models. We each play a part in co-creating the world we live in.
I challenge you today to examine your behavior.
What message are you communicating? If people were to observe you in public without you knowing it, what would they be a witness to? How do you behave in traffic when someone cuts you off? How do you behave when you’re not getting your way while dealing with a vendor? If people were to listen in on your phone calls, what would they hear?
Novelist C.S. Lewis once said, “integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” This is something we should all strive achieve in our daily lives, and always, walk like you talk!
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