Friday, December 17, 2010

Practise before Preaching

A boy was diagnosed to be diabetic. The Doctor gave a strict instruction that he should not eat sweets or sugar. His mother tried to persuade the boy to stop the practice of eating sweets. But she failed. So she took the boy to a saintly sage who was respected and obeyed by all. She requested him, “My son is diabetic. Kindly instruct him to stop the dangerous habit of eating sweets and sugar.” The sage asked her to return with the boy after two weeks and promised that then he would give the necessary instructions to the boy. The mother was surprised but followed the directions. She returned with the boy after two weeks. The sage issued a stern warning and the boy readily agreed to follow the order. Later, out of curiosity, the mother asked the sage why he did not give the instruction during their first visit. “That is simple”, he said, “When you came to me on the first day, I myself was in the habit of eating sugar and sweets. Unless and until I change my habit and practise this myself, how can I ask another person to follow my instruction?”

The story reminds us that example is better than precept. An ideal leader is one who “knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.” A person who has the habit of smoking or drinking does not have the authority or credibility to ask others to quit the habit.

Society needs credible leaders who practice what they preach.


© By Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India and Leo. S. John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.

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