I Am a Leader
A wise man once said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.”
I want to lead, to influence.
I have a problem.
I follow approval.
I influence others to follow approval too—silently though.
But they follow.
I want to go forward.
I go in circles.
My head is craned around.
Looking back for approval.
I have got to give it up and become a follower.
It’s not what you think.
It’s not handing over the lead then following like a lemming.
I have to Lead Me
I have to lead myself.
Take my head in my own hands and point it forward.
Follow great leaders: Mother Teresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wilberforce—gutsy leaders.
Following is a problem too, because of ‘What If?’
What if I pass other followers as I walk towards gutsy leadership?
I will not apologizing for passing—sorry.
I am done with sorry. Apology is after approval. Watch:
“Do you mind if I pass you?”
And you say, “Go ahead.”
But I feel sorry you are not as fast as me. And then I feel threatened because, what if I threatened you by passing?
It’s Neurotic, I Know
I wasn’t always this way. I learned it growing up.
If growing up has taught me one thing it is this: Get approval or else.
I don’t like “or else”—that constant threat.
Here is what I do like.
I like people who don’t give a rat’s hind end about approval—actually, we just attract each other.
Like a Curse
Eve is cursed, Genesis 3:16, cursed with an appetite for approval. And guess what, Adam lords it over her.
Opposites attract. The curse goes on.
Nothing new here.
Except this: I admit I am powerless to quit approval.
I cannot quit the curse.
Neither can you. Admit it.
Alcoholics Anonymous’ Step 1. I admit I am powerless over alcohol approval.
Now I have to lead my powerless self.
It’s that too hard?
It is Supposed to be Hard
Because it is hard—too hard— we look for help.
And the help comes.
Maybe hard is the purpose of the curse.
Hard forces us to take the first step. Alone.
And hope for the help.
You lead you.
I lead me.
Here is what you do: NOTHING.
Don’t do everything. Don’t fix everything. Don’t pander for approval.
What’s your part?
Do your part.
Prove that people can cope with their part.
Really, they do quite well without your fearful reflex.
They Are Fine
Turn and look. They are fine.
And even better: You are fine.
Let supurfluous responsibility slide.
And fall on the ground.
No one asked you to carry it.
Allow them to carry it.
Act like a leader.
Now point your own face forward.
You are in good company.
This is where you belong.
Accepted as “leader”.
Feel the sweet company of the spirit.
And the spirit comes.
It pops and sparks, like a pinewood-fire.
Heroes have it. Bonhoeffer, St.Teresa, Wilberforce.
Their stories pop, flicking out live embers.
Eat the spark.
Swallow it live.
A Fire in your Belly
Fuel the spark.
Read to it.
Pray for it.
Love it: Cup it in your hands and take it to those whose fire fades.
Left alone we are all ash.
Don’t burn out.
I need you.
Not your approval.
Something more meaningful.
Your personal leadership.
My dead heroes are, well, dead.
Their stories can spark fire.
They are no longer the fire itself.
Actually, we only hold the fire.
Hold it in our bellies.
Occasionally loose it with our tongues.
Either way the fire in me cools.
And that is why I must lead myself to The Conflagration.
Meet me here.
Tell your personal leadership stories.