Practice What You Preach, Easier Said Than Done.

Practice What You Preach, Easier Said Than Done.

Often when we offer advice to other people, the solution seems to be so obvious to us; we cannot understand why they aren’t doing it in the first place. And then, after we tell them exactly what to do, they are still stressing about the situation. “Why did I even bother to give any advice?” we ask of ourselves then.

I want to answer that question with a question…..”Do you practice what you preach?” Why is it then that we often battle to solve our own problems?

Do You Practice What You Preach?

practice what you preach
Don’t give advice you’re not willing to follow


So I want to ask you the same question; “Do you practice what you preach?” To be honest, it brought me to the realization that it is easy to give advice to other people, but it is not always so easy to practice what you preach.

Just a few days ago, I was having a conversation with my daughter when I wanted to make a statement about some new habits I’m working on in time management. As I wanted to make the statement, the thought came into my mind; “is this really what I do, or am I trying to convince myself by saying it?”

We are often taught about the value of positive affirmations, but I have come to the conclusion that we first need to believe what we are going to say. We need to be convinced in our hearts that it is a fact.

So it all starts with a thought. Then we need to be convinced about it and believe it. Then we spontaneously start speaking words in line with what we believe, which give confirmation to what we believe, and this is when it becomes powerful. When I make these statements without the appropriate actions, it becomes empty words, and I even have to keep forcing myself to do them.

I’ve come to the same conclusion when giving advice to others. I know exactly what should be done, and how the situation should be handled. But when I am facing a similar situation personally, suddenly there is an element of doubt. What if it doesn’t work? Think about all the consequences…..everything that might go wrong. Yes, when it hits home, it suddenly isn’t all that easy.

 Look at It from the Other Person’s Point Of View

This morning I have asked myself that same question once again. I have just told my wife “exactly what to do” regarding a very stressful situation she was dealing with at work. Yes, she listened to what I had to say, and she even admitted and agreed that I am right. “So why is she still so stressed about it?” I wanted to know. I told her exactly what to do, what to say, and what her attitude should be towards the whole situation. “Why can’t she just do it, stop stressing and carry on with life?”

In my mind, the problem was settled and I refused to be stressed about it. Yet, during the course of the morning, I started wondering how she is dealing with the situation. And that is when it hit me right between the eyes. My wife doesn’t deal with confrontation the same way I do. Even though I would have done exactly what I recommended to her in this situation, it will never be easy for her to do. My wife has a very helpful and friendly personality and she battles to handle confrontation. I should have been more supportive and understanding.

Just yesterday, I have read an excellent blog post written by Marcel Garraghan titled “Look at Things from the Other Person’s Point of View”. How could I have missed it?

You Can Miss the Point In More Ways Than One

I came to the conclusion that there are at least three possibilities where you can totally miss the point.

  1. You can be so preoccupied with your own activities, that you didn’t pay attention to what the other person was saying, and the advice you gave totally missed the point anyhow. This means that you were not paying attention and failed to see the problem from the other person’s point of view, which will actually make your advice just about useless.
  2. The advice you gave was good and you offered the right solution. But what you failed to do is once again to see it from the other person’s point of view. This is what happened in my situation. My lack of understanding why my wife was still stressed about the situation. I wasn’t personally involved. To me, the answer was simple. What I didn’t consider, was that my wife still had to physically face the situation, which in this case was an extremely difficult and unreasonable customer.
  3. It is easy to give advice and tell someone else what to do. But you fail to stay in touch with reality because you are not personally involved. When facing that same situation personally, feeling the emotions and threats that are going along with it, it suddenly becomes a totally different experience.

Start Leading By Example.

After thinking this over, I am left with this conclusion and it goes for anybody, including myself. I don’t care what you say or what practice what you preachyou say you believe. I will look at your actions, and then I will tell you what you believe. Action speaks louder than words. If we can start leading by example, maybe people wouldn’t have to ask us for advice. They would know what we would do because of our actions. When we do give advice, it will carry so much more weight, because everybody will know that it is backed by our actions.

Do you practice what you preach? Let me know by leaving a comment below. I look forward to hear from you.

6 Responses to Practice What You Preach, Easier Said Than Done.

  1. Hey Jaco, I totally agree with what you are saying – put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Or maybe just empathy. When I listen to other peoples troubles – I don’t think I can do anything other than hand over information. What someone else does with it, is entirely up to them. And sometimes we give out great advise but people aren’t going to take action straight away and when they do, they take your advise and add their spin (which they should) because they have to own it. By the sounds of it, you hand out sound advise because people seem to tell you there problems (I know wife and daughter are going to) but never the less the way you reflected was great.

    The best problem solvers are those that are not emotionally involved because as soon as the heart strings are attached we become a little blind sided. But that is great because that is what makes us human. I always think that with one problem comes many different ways of solving it. The individual working on the problem has to find a solution that they can taylor make for themselves. Your wife not liking confrontation (me either) but if I have to then – I go in hard. But your wife is faced with a growing opportunity on many levels in this one circumstance. Basically I loved your post and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on it as well. Your words got my typing fingers bouncing around the key board. Thanks.

    • Hey Rachel, thanks for that great comment. I especially like what you say about it being good for people to take advice, but then they should take responsbility and make it their own. It makes me think of the saying that “you can only help those who are willing to help themselves”. It doesn’t matter how many books you read, how many seminars you attend, or how many people give advice to you, if you do not take action to apply this new knowledge, you will never benefit from it.

      I am glad to hear that you loved this post and that I got your fingers bouncing around the keyboard…..maybe it’s a new post coming up on your blog as well?

  2. Hey Jaco Alberts
    Thank You for such an awesome post. It has given me a reason to think on my habits and whether a follow it or not. It also give me reason to think that whether I follow what I say say to others.

    It is very difficult to follow what we decide but it is not impossible. Thank You for such an inspirational post. Hope to see more from you.

  3. Hello Jaco,

    Actually, this is the habit with many people. Even with me but not all the time, fortunately.

    Being not involved in the situation, we really can slip with some pieces to understand the situation and we just imagine it in our heads what possibly the situation could be by listening few words from the person.

    And the first thing about preaching before advising. I loved it how you portrayed your examples. I try not to do it bu sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I am changing this habit with slow progress.

    Whenever I get hit with such situation where my advice is required and I am really not into it, I try to just be silent or tell that I have no idea what possibly could require. Is that okay way to deal with saying no?

    Loved the post! Keep sharing!

    And see me often! 🙂

    ~ Adeel Sami

    • Hello Adeel,

      Thank you for your comment. I love your aproach about whether to give advice or not to give advice.

      Whith regards to your question whether you have a good way to say no, I personally think you are spot on. Being silent when not knowing the answer, can rather be seen as wisdom, and can give you the opportunity to learn from someone who does know the true solution or answer to the problem. There is a saying that “a wise man can learn more from a fool’s question, than what a fool can learn from a wise man’s answer”.

      When aksed directly for your opinion when you really do not know the answer, I also agree with you that it is better to be honest by saying that you don’t know. That gives you the opportunity to search for the answer together with the other person, and both of you could learn from the experience and gain wisdom. By trying to look clever without real knowledge about the situation, you might end up with egg in your face.

      I think you are on the right track. I enjoyed reading your comment and I look forward seeing you around often!

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