You Want Me to Do What?

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”.

Lead by exampleIt 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.



2 Responses

  1. I love how you word things, especially in this post. for me leadership has always been something that would be awarded to me when i finally learned all the right things in becoming a leader. in my personal life i have kinda felt like the ugly duckling that gets left behind, though in no way do i think or find myself ugly at all. what i mean is i was always the kid who thought differently, while the crowd was raving over there with their leader being loved and adorn, i was off to the side discovering a new insight others did’nt quite get. it left me feeling isolated and misunderstood, because to me what the crowd was raving about was so obvious or, sometimes in the wrong direction i thought a leader should be going. i never was the type to follow someone flashy cause they were popular, i weighed the knowledge behind their words or actions and if it did not suit me, i boldy went off making my own path, and those who wished to listen or asked me of my travels i would share my knowledge of. as a teen this behaviour had many people telling me i was excellent at providing alternative advise, or that i should go into some sort of counselling, even art therapy as i had a flare of being able to help others and inspire them into creativity at the same time, or work through my own issues in my own way without the conventional methods working for me like it does for others. then i had a conversation with you, where u said” to be a leader you also need to be able to follow” and this struck a cord in me, cause i had always viewed following, like folowing those flashy leaders, blindly without question, and that is not who this free spirited woman is. however i thought of how you discribed it to me, i follow your example as you are a friend, a mentor, a coach, and a high priestess to me in my life, and i was able to see what you meant. by following your example, while still being true to myself and questioning things for myself as needed, i have been able to learn more about leadership, than having to always go off on my own and do everything the hard way by myself. while yes i believe that quality is valueable when needed, a true leader or priestess knows when to lead in front, and when to hang back, listen and guide from the rear, while following others and allowing them to learn their own leadership skills. i find this reaasuring because a friend of mine said to me about a year ago to me- “i would’nt consider you a leader, your more the assistant, or the side kick to the leader”, okay maybe she did’nt word it exactly that way, but that is how i took it- with a bit of a ouch punch to the gut. which did not help my self esteem, or the previous idea of me thinking i had to earn the title. now i realize i never trully chose to lead, when i did, or when i wanted to be a leader, i already was, just in my own way. yes i think leaders can become better leaders and learn and enhance their natural skills without it being a competiton, something i had not previously thought of or was aware of, however like being able to carve my own path, i did not conciously choose this quality( as it is in my inherant personality, or soul so to speak) but it is a calling that my soul reconizes me, one that makes me strive to become a better person, and like you said, to know when to speak gently and when to speak up and roar a message. so thankyou for guiding me when i have needed it, and allowing me to lead also when it has been needed, i think this balance makes u a wise leader:)
    Phoenix. recently posted..Hello world!

  2. Phoenix, I have seen you grow so much in the few years I have known you, and it has definitely accelerated recently. I’m so glad this post has impacted you! Leaders do have to know how to follow. Keep growing and learning, and you are coming into your own power as a leader. You will find your unique way, and those people who need to hear what you have to say will find you.