change yourself to change the world

A woman once went to visit Mahatma Gandhi along with her young son. After walking for miles in the scorching sun and waiting for a long time, she finally got to meet him.

She said, “Bapu, my son eats too much sugar. Would you please tell him to stop eating it? It is not good for his health.”

Gandhi thought for a while and told her, “Please come back after two weeks. I will talk to your son then.”

The woman was perplexed and wondered why he did not talk to her son right away. She took her son and went home.

She came back two weeks later with her son taking the arduous trip again. When they approached Gandhi, this time he looked directly at the boy and said, “Son, you should stop eating so much sugar, it is not good for your health.”

The boy nodded and promised he would end his habit of eating excessive sugar.

The woman was immensely thankful but she couldn’t resist not knowing the reason for the second trip and the two week wait. She asked him, “Bapu, why didn’t you tell him this two weeks back?”

Gandhi smiled and replied, “Two weeks back, I was eating too much sugar myself. How could have I told him not to eat excessive sugar?”

There’s a powerful lesson in this story. Before we instruct or advise others, we need to make sure that we are following the advice first. Show before you tell.

In order to become a better human and an exceptional leader, we need to make sure that we live with integrity and our actions support our words. To paraphrase Gandhi, we need to be the change we want to see in this world.