Monday, February 1, 2021

Practise What You Preach (MY Eng #3)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees' and 'the elephant in the room'.

I'm very fond of advising people to plan ahead to meet their deadlines and keep their promises. Don't procrastinate. Procrastination is the thief of time (another idiom!)

It's a life advice that I always swear to follow. I can't be telling people to do one thing, but do the exact opposite, can I? That would be hypocritical. Contradictory. Or even dishonest.

But today, I nearly broke my own promise - forgetting to post on my blog today - just like every 1st, 11th and 21st day of the month. Lawks! What a klutz I am. Lucky I managed to catch myself first thing in the morning. Disaster averted! Whew!

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So my own near blooper inspires the idiom of the week - practise what you preach.

I had a busy week. But I've had busier periods in the past, and still managed to remember keeping to my blogging schedule. So work commitments can't be an excuse. Never did, and certainly not now. Truth be told, the 1st February deadline totally slipped my mind last few days.

And so, I wasn't practising what I preached. I didn't keep my eyes on the ball. I lost track of time. I allowed myself to get distracted. I lost focus. SHAME!

Of course, that's just a small slip. We've all seen plenty of egregious examples of non-practicising preachers on a daily basis. The Catholic priest who molests altar boys. The telegenic talk-show host brimming with 'positivity' and 'kindness' cultivating a toxic and abusive working culture behind the scenes. The human rights scholar with the habit of shaming and silencing people holding a contrarian view. It's common for loud mouths to act against what they're advocating for.

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So how do we ensure that we really practise what we preach? Well, for starters, a good tip is to simply preach less.

True, I do tend to get rather preachy in my writings. Then again, it's more about the content of your preaching, not the frequency. I like to think I preach about stuff that's fairly obvious - don't be lazy, keep an open mind, don't be overly affected by what others say about you, live the moment, blah blah blah.

Even when I get somewhat political, my tone may be rather sharp but the message is hardly objectionable - calling out against corruption, democracy isn't a guarantee to freedom and happiness, blah blah blah. Of course, some of my musings are done in humour and shouldn't be taken at face value.

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Anyway, point is, don't preach more than you can practise. Or don't bite more than you can chew (another idiom!). Don't go dispensing advice to other that you, yourself, have trouble keeping (or don't even follow). Make sure your words matches with your actions.

The world is not short of preachers. What the world needs more than ever are practisers. In short, more practice, less preaching!

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