Practitioner or Advocate? Which are you?

OK, here’s a challenge for EVERYONE, me included. Are you a practitioner or merely an advocate?

I’m guessing we’re all a bit of both, depending on the issue at hand. In essence, what I mean is, do we practise what we preach? Do we DO what we advise… or merely tell everyone else how good for them it would be?

A wee while ago, I was asked to devise and deliver a workshop on improving your memory skills. Most of the advice I gave I DO follow myself – developing acronyms, mnemonics, mental images and mind maps for remembering random facts and so on. I am, therefore a practitioner of those activities, not just an advocate.

There was one section, however, on remembering numbers which involved first remembering a series of words or letters that represented the numbers 1 to 10 (or 1 to 100 if you’re really keen) , then linking them to the actual date or phone number to be remembered, and then forming the whole thing into a sentence of some sort… all of which is easier to remember, allegedly, than trying to remember the phone number itself.

A short way into this process, and I’m losing the will to live, and as a result, I’m only a half hearted advocate of this process – I know it works for other people, but I’ll stick to visualising the number and muttering it under my breath until I can grab a nearby piece of paper to write it down.

There, I make a conscious choice NOT to be a practitioner of number mnemonics, because I really can’t be bothered, and I’m happy to tell people “I don’t do this myself, but you might find it useful – others do.”

I’m both an advocate AND a practitioner, however, of the Yara Method: before we unleashed it on anyone else, Mel and I went through the entire process ourselves, and continue to do so to ensure that it’s still relevant, that it works, and that it makes a lasting difference for the better, to both individuals and organisations. How could I advocate something potentially life-changing without having tested it out myself?

What happens, though, when a cynical rather than a conscious choice is made? For example, it’s not unheard of for a company’s senior management to document company values, devise mission statements and develop behavioural competencies… and then blithely ignore the lot in a “do what I say, don’t do what I do” approach. What about those politicans claiming to stand for justice, fair play, and the (wo)man on the street… whilst cheating on their expenses? Or some teachers who demand respect from pupils… whilst treating them with disdain?

At what point does advocacy rather than practice become hypocrisy… and can we really be a believable advocate if we haven’t been a practitioner first?


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