None of you reading will be surprised by the following statement, but here it goes anyway; I haven’t always set a good example. Shocking, right? I thought you would be, but being a coach and a parent, I needed to change my ways. But this doesn’t mean I always get it right because I’m human and make mistakes and overreact to things I shouldn’t.
And when I do, prying eyes are watching, which reminds me of a Hall and Oates song. Who doesn’t love some Hall & Oates?
What shouldn’t surprise you is how easily off track I get, so let me get back on task. Before going any further, let’s clear up any confusion about setting a good example. The Cambridge definition goes as follows.
To behave in a way that other people should copy.
Another way of saying this is being a good role model. You are a role model as an adult with a paying job, kids, and responsibilities outside yourself. Whether you like it or not. One thing I’ve always found interesting is when a professional athlete is caught misbehaving, and it goes a little like this.
Reporter shoving a mic in their face: Aren’t you worried about the example you set for your fans?
Professional athlete: I didn’t set out to be (bleep, bleep, bleep) a role model. I just do me.
That’s the thing with setting an example and being a role model; it happens whether you want to or not. People will intimidate behavior, good or bad.
A Bad Example
When I was a teenager, back in the eighties (scary, I know), my favorite tennis player was John McEnroe. John was an ultra-talented tennis player, shot-making extraordinaire, and ultra-competitive. But this all came at a cost. He had a heck of a temper and was a kettle ready to boil over at any time. Watch the example below.
Not the best behavior for a young impressionable teenager, but he didn’t care. He only cared about winning. So, when I took up tennis and played competitive matches with my high school buddy, guess whom I used to behave like?
That’s not much of a stretch.
Man, my tantrums were legendary. I’d scream, yell, cuss, and throw my tennis racquet in frustration. I’m sure my friend was pretty sick of it, and the same with my youngest sister because that was her racquet. It wasn’t my intention to behave this way, and I’m not sure why I did in hindsight, except for one thing.
I saw John do it, and I thought that’s how you reacted when things didn’t go your way on the tennis court.
A Good Example
As a newbie personal trainer, I watched and learned in any way possible. Because money was an issue, rather than going to seminars and conferences, I’d read anything I could get my hands on and watched a ton of YouTube.
Then through trial and error, I learned what would work for me and my clients.
I followed and still follow three guys: Dan John, Tony Gentilcore, and Eric Cressey. I read and bought their books, blog posts and watched their videos. It was a monkey see and monkey do deal—their training methods, how they wrote, and how they carried themselves as coaches and content creators. Through them, I found my style and what worked for me.
These three guys didn’t set out to be role models like John McEnroe; they were all doing their thing. And that thing set a good and bad example for me.
Me & Examples
When you become a dad, you become an instant role model and an example of behavior. It’s not a stretch to suggest that kids pick up many cues and behaviors from their parents because it’s a significant way they learn.
In my 18 years as a parent, I’ve been an example of both types of behavior.
If I was to sit here and type all my examples of bad behavior, let’s say the list is very long and distinguishable. And you would probably dislike me and stop reading this post, so let’s focus on some good examples.
My kids and wife have all trained with me at some stage. Being a trainer for 13 years, my kids have been exposed to my job, and both asked if I would train them. Not once did I suggest they lift weights; they followed my behavior of being consistent with my exercise routine. My good example plays a large part in that.
Plus, I’m a big water drinker and regularly carry a water bottle around the house and in the car, and because of this good habit, both my kids do the same. I didn’t set out for my kids to do either, but they followed my behavior, and I was a good role model for a change.
That’s the thing with being a role model; whether you like it or not, you never know who is watching. Sometimes it pays to dance like someone is watching because you don’t know who’s watching.
A significant reason I still exercise is to set a good example for my clients and others around me. The other reason is the biceps. 😊 In my experience, many people don’t like being told what to do but love being SHOWN what to do. So, using that piece of wisdom, what kind of example will you show today?