Monday, March 21, 2011

I am a following leader

Day 19

Almost there! I was driving in the car tonight and got a weird feeling in my stomach, a cross between dread and excitement. I have made a conscious decision lately to pay attention to physical reactions, especially when they come out of nowhere, so this sensation made me come out of lala land...and I realized I was thinking about being 30 in 2 days. My brain says it is no big heart isn't so sure. One thing that is for's happening whether I like it or not.

So, at work today I heard a student say something that was wonderful. This student said-"sometimes you have to follow to be a leader". I thought about this notion all day, and I am still not too sure why I love it so much. So, it should be no surprise that I want to do some reflecting on it right here and now.

I have spent a lot of years being a follower. When I was younger I didn't have much confidence, but I always knew when I liked something. Unfortunately, I usually liked something as soon as someone else did. I'm sure this really ticked my friends soon as they liked a song, I bought the single on cassette (remember those?!); as soon as I saw a cute skirt, I immediately asked where it was from so I could go look at it. Honestly, this was not to be annoying or a copy-cat, I just needed some validation from another person that something was cool, because I wasn't sure enough of myself to trust my own opinion. I never really had my own ideas. (Quick digression: this is pretty big for me to be putting out's one of those things you remember with shame and embarrassment when you look back. However, I have promised to find strength and growth in pain. Onward.)

I think the reason that I was so struck by the notion of being a leader by following others is that I have spent 29 years, 363 days thinking that following others was a weakness, something to be ashamed of. Aren't we praised for originality, creativity, uniqueness? Doesn't it make the fashion pages when two celebrities show up wearing the same dress to an event? There are leadership conferences, leadership seminars, leadership awards...have you ever heard of a "follower award"? Yeah, me neither.

But isn't it the case that following others can be a sign of a desire to learn from others? A sign of a yearning for connectedness, an indication that you want to belong? I ask this in question form because I don't really know the answer. However, in my opinion, when we belong and feel connected to others, our confidence grows, we gain the ability to use our voice. And from that, leadership qualities can emerge.

For all of you who have commented on my courageousness in embarking on this journey, today is the day that I have been the isn't easy to admit something you feel shame about. Paying attention to the knot in my stomach as I prepare to push the "publish" button tells me I have gone farther tonight in my reflecting than I have yet. But in doing so, I consider myself a leader even more. I speak up, I voice my opinion. Other people look to me for advice, for input, for connection. I belong. I once followed others, and sometimes still do. And in that following, I found my place, and have become a leader as well.

About me:
1. I am a rightionist who is striving to wing it every once in a while.
2. I am inspired by others; I am on this earth to relate to others. I am a social worker.
3. I love stuff, until it turns to shit.
4. I am aware of extraordinary growth, even on ordinary days.
5. I embrace change, if it's my idea.
6. I am willing to commit to the smaller stuff; I will find strength in pain.
7. I have to find my own way. I have found my way to loving writing, and am on my way to loving myself.
8. I am a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a cousin and a best friend. I belong to a family.
9. My hope springs eternal.
10. I am able to realize when it's time to simplify.
11. I have talents; I am an academic, an artist, and many other things yet discovered.
12. I immerse myself in words; I am a connoisseur of reading, writing and speaking.
13. I am a control freak searching for calm waters.
14. I am accepting of my nerdiness.
15. I am eternally learning.
16. I can't do this alone.
17. I am human.
18. I am a product of thinking about my environment
19. I am a following leader. 

1 comment:

  1. Jamie, you inspire in so many ways. In this blog, you happened upon the wonderful world of what other call "servant leadership." check it out.