How Practicing What You Preach Will Lead To Your Success

by Paul Hudson

I love my job. I really did luck out when I ran into Eddie Cuffin that one night nearly a year ago. All it took was a few rounds and some conversation — next thing I know I’m at the Elite Daily headquarters getting paid to put my thoughts on paper. Well, digital paper I guess. Now I get to sit down and share my thoughts, ideas and rants with all of you… and I have to admit that it’s a lot of fun.

I’m always curious to know what exactly it is that you all think of me — how you envision my personal life to be. Most of what I write focuses on either deeply rooted beliefs of my own or on thoughts that have recently made their way to the forefront of my conscious mind. A lot of what I write may come off preachy at times — whether or not you find that appealing depends on your personal preferences.

I write because I enjoy writing, because I enjoy sharing my ideas and because a good number of you seem to enjoy reading what I write. There is also one more reason why I write what I write: I write to remind myself of what I believe to be important and what I believe I myself need to continue to work on. I don’t just write for you — I also write for myself.

No matter what anyone tells you or what criticism anyone gives you, the truth is that practicing what you preach all the time is difficult. This is a truth that is not novel. It is a truth that has been clear for thousands of years. Some of the greatest philosophers that the world has ever seen — people that have devoted their lives to living in sync with the philosophy, the truths, that they themselves believed to be necessarily true — have from time to time wavered from their paths, even if only ever so slightly.

It often has a lot to do with our focus; most of us have difficulty keeping our mind’s eye gazing in the direction that we believe it should gaze. Other times it’s not that our focus is unclear, but our wants in relation to our focus are muggy. Each and every person has something that he or she wants — more often than not it’s several somethings. When these wants come into contradiction with other wants, one always wins out over the others and in retrospect it isn’t always the one that we wish.

Practicing what you preach is a necessity. If your actions do not match up with the beliefs that come out of your mouth then you are either lying to the world or lying to yourself — either way, it’s wrong. If your actions do not match up with your own beliefs then you are literally a walking contradiction. Contradictions do not make progress — they instead remain caught up in the uncertainty that is their purpose for existence.

Assuming that what each of us wants most is progress — something that I believe to be an innate factor within us all — then we cannot allow ourselves to follow counterproductive paths, paths leading to different destinations. If life is but a long chain of actions and reactions, each leading to a more probable future, then our opposing actions will cause us to repeatedly change our course. Imagine it like this: every time that you make a decision to either practice what you preach or to ignore that which you believe to be right, then you are actively deciding whether you wish to keep the ship steered on course or instead to change course.

If you change your actions — change your course — then you are actively changing your destination. For those of us that are most diligent and most hungry for success, we are bound to steer back on course sooner or later. However, veer off too often or for too long and you will find yourself walking in circles never making the progress that is needed in order for you to reach your final dreamed of destination.

This is not to say that doing so is easy. Our long-term wants often go head-to-head with our immediate wants; we want to own our own tech firm, but at the moment we really want to grab a beer with our friends. We want that rock-hard body, but at the moment we really just want to grab a slice of pizza…we understand that it is sometimes okay to give into these urges, but many of us are not able to treat ourselves once and then hop right back on the wagon — instead we linger. We become distracted from our long-term goals and divert our attention to more present and immediate gratification.

That which we do, think and believe is what outlines the boundaries of our personal realities. There is no one true reality — only endless versions of it. Each person not only sees the world differently, but also creates boundaries and rules that govern it. We create or accept beliefs, making them truths. These beliefs become the rules that we ourselves play by.

The problem appears when we are unable to strictly outline the boundaries of our world — when we are unclear what is acceptable, what is not acceptable and what is or isn’t possible. These boundaries become self-fulfilling prophecies; we believe that we can or can’t and in doing so guarantee that we will or won’t. If we are unclear what rules we ought to play by, then we end up playing by different rules and holding different beliefs from day-to-day or moment-to-moment. Our focus changes on a whim. Our wants become an endless list of forever-changing, feasibly accomplishable things. Then, to add the cherry atop the havoc, anxiety sets in.

Without setting clear boundaries for our personal realities we have no one set of rules that we can trust to be correct. As the boundaries are mutable, the rules are bendable. This is a beautiful truth in disguise if we are able to utilize it properly. There not being a set of finite boundaries means that we may change and write them as we wish; group that together with a strong purpose of reality and any reality that you wish will become yours.

However, be uncertain as to your purpose and you will find yourself in a maze with no exit. Being unable to clearly define boundaries and/or shifting between versions of them creates uncertainty, which causes anxiety to manifest. Anxiety leads to stress and stress leads to failure — all this, a result of preaching and not following through.

I am in a unique position because my preaching is less private than most. This is not to say that it isn’t personal because it is — very much so. But we all do a bit of preaching to ourselves. We make ourselves promises and we motivate ourselves from time to time by grasping onto a new belief or a new method of achieving our goals — like a new miracle diet for example.

We follow through on our breakthroughs for short periods of time until we lose focus because of one factor or another. It could be because our wants and goals are unclear; it could be because the rules and boundaries that we set for ourselves are either misleading or impractical. Or, it could be because life simply happens and it happens not in our favor.

Stress and anxiety set in and we inevitably lose our way and lose ourselves. You see, when you set boundaries for your world, you are simultaneously setting boundaries for yourself because you have no choice but to play by the rules you set. If you don’t have rules, or don’t have clear rules, then you don’t have the knowledge needed to play, to participate.

At first you venture off in all directions hoping to find a clear path, but not being able to find one, you simply give up. You throw in the towel and decide that there is nothing for you to practice because there is no truth out there worth preaching — to yourself or to others. You give up on looking for rules or boundaries that the world works within and you give up on your life. If you are going to set rules, then keep them, unless you are certain that it’s necessary to alter them. If you’re going to do any preaching, then make sure to follow through and practice.