I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page the other day, and it really struck me:
Patricia Snyder wrote:
Please, choose your leaders carefully. Do not follow them blindly for you may not know what drives them. Learn to question their motives; don’t assume they have your best interests at heart. Look for maturity and wisdom over flash. Remember, a true leader will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Leadership is not a popularity contest. Leaders choose their words carefully because they know that their words hold weight. Leadership is a calling, not a prize.
Let me repeat that last line: Leadership is a calling, not a prize. I’ve known a few people that seemed to think leadership is a prize to be won because he/she was the fastest/loudest/strongest/whatever-est. And they are definitely not inspiring. In fact, often I want to run in the other direction when I encounter those kind of “leaders”.
It also makes me think of my experience at Enlightened Warrior Training Camp a few years ago. At the beginning of the week, the gigantic group of over 400 of us was divided into smaller “tribes” of about 20 or so people. Once we were in in our tribes, we introduced ourselves, and shared what we brought to the group. Almost everyone said they brought leadership. So I didn’t. I remember thinking, “With all of these leaders, I will be able to be a follower! I don’t have to be the one in charge.” The qualities I decided to bring to the group were love and non-judgment.
Fast forward a couple of days. There was a lot that happened there that I cannot share with you – like the Mysteries, is is something that must be experienced to be understood. One of the group tasks for each tribe was to come up with some kind of chant to describe and unite our group. Ideally there should be a physical component to it. We weren’t given a lot of time to come up with it, in between all the other tasks we were given. Our group discussed it on the way to dinner one day, and could not come to any conclusion. I said I would come up with something.
I used the same process I use for writing meditations. I had an idea of what I wanted to say. I thought about it while I did other things, putting a few words together here and there in my head. After a few hours, I wrote it out, and shared it with the group the following day.
They loved it, and they were worried about remembering it all. I said I could do most of it on my own, and the rest of the group could join in at the end and do the actions. There was some concern over whether I would be able to be loud enough, and I told them not to worry. I would be plenty loud when the time came. And I let the others, the ones who said they brought leadership to our group, sort out the rest of the details.
The time came to present our chant to the rest of the group. Again, some of the leaders were concerned about volume. I asked for their trust once again.
Other tribes did theirs, and everyone cheered for everyone else. Finally it was our turn. I took a deep breath and began. The whole tent, 400+ people, became quiet, and erupted into applause when we were done. Even my own tribe was stunned, and pleased.
I didn’t ask to be the leader of our tribe. I didn’t even set that intention. Yet there I was, leading a group of leaders, not because I felt I was better than them, but because inspiration had chosen me to speak up. And, to be perfectly honest, there is a part of me that enjoys being in the spotlight. I earned the respect of my tribe by speaking quietly to begin with, and only shouting when it was our turn to be heard above the crowd.
In my priestess work, it’s been a similar story. I started out looking for a group to join, and was told repeatedly, “If you start one, I’ll come.” The Universe was sending me a message in no uncertain terms to lead.
I don’t always feel ready or prepared to lead. I hope I can live up to the standards of the quote above. I strive for maturity and wisdom. I do my best not to tell people only what they want to hear, even if sometimes it is really difficult to say what they need to hear. I do choose my words carefully.
If you have any feedback for me on how I am showing up as a leader, I’d love to hear it. Even if it may not be what I want to hear.