I study karate on a regular basis, and over the years I've practiced a number of different martial arts, most of them in fairly strict in the traditions and routines of student behavior. When I started this new school with me son, it was a lot less strict. That was OK with me, I'm older, and it was a new business with a fellow IT worker leaving his job to pursue his dream of a martial arts school.
Old habits die hard, and I was used to bowing before I moved, before/after kata, and at other times, without exception. Most people in the school only bowed when asked (begining or the end of class, when the teacher mentioned it at the start of kata, before partner drills, etc.) However I bowed every time before I moved to change position, line up, keeping with the routine that had been drilled into me at many places.
After about a year, most people were doing the same thing. Our teacher had noticed, and actually called it out one day. I hadn’t really noticed the others since it wasn't something I cared about. I study for myself, and I've tried to pass that belief on to my son. Our instructor did say that I set an example, and he appreciated that.
By living the way I thought was proper, I’d influenced people. I'm not sure what I take from that, but it did make me realize that our actions change change lives, even passively.