Preach What You Practice
Yeah, you read it right.
No, I didn’t start off this post by botching this popular phrase. It is most certainly important to practice what you preach, however, this idea is one we have been made well aware of. The lesson is to eliminate our hypocritical tendencies by living out the philosophies we believe in.
But this idiom assumes that you have already put yourself out there to share how you live with others. It is actually uncommon for many to put their way of life on the line to be considered or scrutinized by others.
Thus, I see need to advocate the inverse of this popular saying: the importance of preaching what you practice.
It may sound odd at first but I think the power of sharing our ideas and habits with others is underutilized by most of us, especially in regards to writing.
Sharing your thoughts through writing has never been easier than it is today with the quite popular world wide web and its multitude of social media and blogging locations for you to choose from. If writing isn’t your thing, then avenues like vlogging or podcasting are more accessible than ever before.
An obvious positive to sharing your interests and philosophies publicly is the potential to influence and help others find something they may have previously not been exposed to. However, there are many personal benefits as well that include self reflection, accountability, confirmation and confrontation.
I don’t think I’m alone in being consistently influenced by the content I choose to take in whether it be through reading, listening or viewing. What we choose to input most certainly affects our outputs.
But why should we only take in information from others?
Wouldn’t it make sense to take what you’ve learned or experienced and pay it forward?
The beauty of this new age of seamless accessibility to each other is the collective knowledge that is forming. We don’t only have to learn from our own experiences, we can learn from those of others as well.
Therefore, your experiences, interests and world views are valuable to the collective. You might have a new take on a topic or reach someone who no one else would’ve.
Your reasons for dedicating your college years to lacrosse could impact someone considering the prospect. That story about how you quit your job could empower someone to find their own courage.
You don’t need to be rich, famous or a genius in order to have something valuable to contribute to society.
By finding our passions and sharing them we create a chain reaction of others doing the same. You already absorb tons of information that is produced by other people. It’s time to stop neglecting your ability to share what you think as well.
Self Reflection & Accountability
“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”- John Dewey
One of the most underrated perks of creating something to share is the self reflection it allows. We don’t actually learn by just experiencing. Most of the time we autopilot through our life and don’t sit back and pick apart our opinions, decisions or obligations.
Real learning and growth spur from reflection and producing your own content is one of the best ways to accomplish that task.
By writing a piece or creating a video, you are giving yourself the gift of being able to view your life as a third party. Getting your thoughts out allows you to analyze them yourself.
This creates accountability.
You will have no excuse to lazily just go through life never questioning your own practices. They will have to stand the test of your own scrutinizing and it is surprising how much you will learn about yourself and the way you think.
It’s quite possible that this blog post sucks.
Even so, it would still have value since I’m only able to come to that realization by transcribing my thoughts and analyzing them myself. This is how I can better collect my thoughts and improve in the future.
Confirmation or Confrontation
The benefits don’t end there.
In addition to your own ability to examine your work, you open up your ideas to the opinions of others. Feedback on your work is important if you are able to remove your ego and take it objectively (easier said than done for all of us, of course).
Positive confirmation of what you’ve produced helps to increase your confidence and drive to create more. If you are writing about your own personal philosophies or practices, an extra benefit of enforcement of your lifestyle carries over to your own mental well being.
In contrast, you might receive negative feedback or conflicting opinions as a result of putting yourself out there. However, this can be even more valuable than the positive feedback you will inevitably receive (at least from your mom).
Hearing others’ thoughts on the weaknesses of your work or where they differ on what you’ve entailed in the content helps you in multiple ways. It provides you new perspectives which can help you improve yourself in the future; and if you still disagree with the feedback, simply being made to defend your content helps to strengthen your ideas and perhaps make you aware of more angles you neglected in the past.
Either way, what you create will be built upon in the future by what you learn from these interactions.
The beauty of walking down this path are the possibilities it opens up. After you start “preaching” through one medium, your desire to pursue another will increase.
You might start blogging and then work up the confidence to make YouTube videos, compose songs or write that screen play you’ve always thought about.
I know how effective this can be because I have drawn inspiration from those who have taken a similar path of sharing their content.
One of my best friends got me into writing on Medium and shares his life through his music as well. My sister uses social media in order to display her incredible work as a hairstylist for potential clientele. There’s even a YouTuber friend of mine who produces lifestyle content simply because she loves it.
They are just a few who have inspired me with their work and actively preach what they practice. Everyone can find a passion for creating. The hardest step is to stop thinking about what you would and just do it.
What you do might not be “good” for a long time. However, no one is going to come around and market yourself for you. It’s on you to keep going and improve on your work as you go. I think you’ll be surprised to find the fulfillment it will bring you.
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