Are you setting a good example?

Nothing gives you more perspective about your childhood than becoming a parent. The sleepless nights, chasing them around, endless reruns of kid shows and of course potty training.

My favorite.

I have lost count the number of times I sat through Elmo Potty. And at one stage I could recite Elmo word for word. Ahh the joys of being a parent and watching and reading the same things over and over. Almost like groundhog day but with Elmo.

Then your thoughts (may) pass to your childhood and the things you put your parents through. Parenting provides a huge dose of perspective that has you running to the phone to apologize to your parents.

Anyhow, even though your parents did not realize it, they were setting a good (or bad) example.

Setting A Good Example

As a personal trainer, I never expect clients to do an exercise that I have never done. And if I am doing an exercise my client is not doing, do not expect them to do it.

It is about modelling good behaviors and have zero expectations. If some people do not want to do it, it is no skin off your nose. Keep on setting the right example and let your actions speak for you.

Rather than telling people what do to, show them. Because generally people dislike being told what to do but rather be shown what to do.

Setting A Bad Example

Back at high school when the T-Rex chased me around the playground, John McEnroe was my favorite tennis player. He was exciting to watch, and he won a lot. But John was a perfectionist and when something did not go his way, he reacted badly.

So, when I took up tennis and played regularly with a high school friend, guess whose behavior I modelled when things didn’t go my way?

Here is the thing with superstar athletes who kids look up to. When you are a child and do not know any better, you unintentionally model their behavior. And by being in the public eye, athletes are setting an example, even when they don’t realize it.

My Dad, The Good

Like most boys, I looked to my father as a hero. Watching how my father carried himself was a huge part of my childhood. And some of his ‘traits’ have stayed with me.

My father made me do yard work and I hated it. I would do anything to get out of it, so I could go play with my friends. At the time, I didn’t see the point.

But I do now.

Being a homeowner with a large yard, yardwork is not a choice but a necessity. And I still hate it, but I do it because my father instilled in me to work on something I hate. He knew I hated it but didn’t care.

And for that, I’m thankful.  

My Dad, The Bad

Oh, my dad had quite the mouth and the short fuse.

By the time I was 8 or 9, I knew all the curse words. Not only would I use them, but I would teach all my neighbors and friends the magic of the f words, the s words, and the mf words. Potty mouth school was in-session.

However, when you’re a parent, using this kind of language in front of your kids is not on. But with my tendency for my mouth to run ahead of my brain, it’s been a struggle NOT to swear.  

And although I’m better about it now, I still slip up occasionally. But his expressions of rage is what truly made a lasting impression.

His ways of dealing with me, unintentionally I was using on my kids and wife too. I had a ton of repressed anger that if left unchecked, may have cost me my marriage and relationship with my kids.

And after making this mistake over and over, I realized I had a problem and decided to do something about it.

I don’t blame my dad for my behaviors because I’m responsible for my own actions.  But I realized I was making the same mistakes and it had to stop.

What’s This all Got To Do With Exercise?

When it comes to my training business, there is no forcing, no hard sell. I try to put enough actionable content out on the interwebs for people to make of their own minds.

The same goes for my kids. They know what I do for a living and they know how much work I’ve put into my gym Outback Performance. My kids watch my YouTube and Instagram videos even though their interest level is low.

I have never forced them to lift. Suggested yes, but never dragged them by the ears to train. But you know what I have done. Set a good example. By training myself and training clients for over 11 years, they have seen the positive effects of lifting weights.

And now that they have gotten older and are more interested in about how they look and perform, both my boys are now training with me. And I could not be happier.

As most parents can attest, telling your kids what to do is, at times a fruitless task. But showing them what to do and setting a good example, now that is something that can rub off of them.

Wrapping up

I’ve been far from the perfect and I haven’t always set the best example for my children and clients. Because like a lot of people, I’m a work in progress. But when it comes to exercise, I strive to set a good example and now it’s starting to stick.

What kind of example are you setting?

Because you never know who is watching.

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