Friday, January 11, 2008

We Are All Followers

At the root of all leadership is a simple fact that many leaders are unwilling to admit: we are all followers. It is unequivocally true. We are the make-up of many ideas, theories, and actions, all of which have made an imprint on us through studying, watching, and emulating others who we were/are influenced by.

Leaders are influenced by others around them as much as they influence others, but what separates a leader from a perpetual follower is that a leader has unwavering faith in themselves and bases every decision on their faith. This strong held set of beliefs and principles is what allows leaders to separate from the pack and thrive as an individual, whereas the follower remains dependant on the thoughts and influence of others.

Our individuality is what allows us to lead, it is what makes us unique and opens us up to being followed. If we do not have faith in our individual traits then we can never take the ideas we learn from our mentors and make them our own. In essence, out faith in ourselves allows us to be influenced so that we can influence others while remaining true to our identity.

When we lack faith in ourselves we remain open to influence, only we are unable to separate positive from negative influence and follow what is perceived popular no matter its intention or origin. Sometimes we get lucky and follow those that make our lives better and other times we follow those that convince us drink cool-aide. Our success is dependant on chance and the momentum of our surroundings, rather than the belief in ourselves that our current state is the correct state.

Gangs, con-men, and cults all prey on those of us that are easily influenced and are not resolute in our individual faith. We buy into the idea that we do not have to think for ourselves and that others have our best interests in mind, therefore we are to follow the influence. Getting trapped and being influenced is not the problem, the problem is not having the faith in your decision making processes to get out.

Following is the first step in succeeding and the last step in failing. All the steps in between have to do with our ability to have faith in ourselves, and ultimately will determine our successes and failures. Since we are all followers, it is up to us to decide if our first and last steps are going to be the same.

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