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August 25, 2020

Preach What You Practice

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It’s about time someone flipped this common expression on its head. Growing up we heard a very important saying “Practice what you preach”, and it served us. It goes along with other lessons like the Golden Rule - “Treat others the way you want to be treated”, and “Always say please and thank you.”

But now that we’re a bit older and we know how things work, we can think about this simple quote in a different way. It’s not that you must practice what you preach, it’s that you should preach what you practice.

There are three different ways to communicate something. You can say it, you can show it, or you can have someone experience it. Those 3 ways are listed in order of increasing effectiveness. “Show not tell”, right? You've heard it before.

Well with the quote, “Practice what you preach”, you’re leading with ‘tell’. You’re telling people what to do first, then holding yourself to that standard. A more effective way of communicating with other people would be to “Preach what you practice”, because what happens first is your commitment to demonstrating it by your own example. Then when you talk about it you have more authority and credibility on the topic because you are living proof of the thought, rather than a messenger of it.

Another schoolyard quote that wraps this thought up nicely: “Lead by example”. That’s a classic way of ‘showing not telling’ the best way to do something.

So what does this all mean? It starts with you. You need to first be the practitioner before you can preach it. It’s not just about practicing what you preach, but preaching what you practice.

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