Thursday, August 07, 2008

Who Makes It Worth It?

On the heels of Monday's entry (One thing they never tell you) by Willie, many of us have been reminded just how leadership and acting like a leader separates you from the herd. See, it is important to note that even among the sheep who are led by the sheppard; there are leaders and followers. That is, among the masses there are those who are looked up to (even though they too, need to be led), and there are those who truly are "sheeple".

If one truly chooses to uphold their highest principles as often as possible, to better themselves as often as possible in as many ways as possible, and to share this knowledge with others- well then they may just become a sheppard themselves.

The thing with sheppards and sheep is that there are thousands of sheep (in our society- millions), while there are only a few sheppards. Therefore in any culture once you amass enough people, there will eventually be more sheep than sheppards. Put another way, it will be easier to relate to the sheep than the sheppards.

It is usually easier to relate to and understand your coworker than it is your boss. The difference in pay between the sheep and the sheppard is also disproportionate. For a 25% increase in pay there is often a 100% increase in workload. If this is the case, why would your boss say yes to $50,000 a year on 80 hours a week when they could have $40,000 on just 40 hours? Are they crazy? Some- for sure.

The answer is that most sheppards can never return to being sheep. They know how much work it is to lead people, and they can't unlearn that fact in order to become another member of the herd who needs to be corralled.

So what makes is worth the largely increased time and effort for the marginally increased pay? The answer is simple. When you have been herding sheep all day it is such a treat to raise a glass with, laugh with, or lie in bed next to another sheppard.

It is important to note that a great sheppard does not feel disdain for the sheep- quite the opposite in fact. Usually the effort comes out of love for each one of them. It is more that the sheppard spends time trying to get to know and get to lead the sheep whereas the sheep have a lot less in common with the sheppard so they will usually gravitate more towards one another.

It takes a quality person with good values to be a part of a great herd (team, church, business, family)... however it takes an impeccable amount of vision, drive, consistency, charisma, organization, and creativity to be able to be the source of inspiration and alignment for that great unit.

When the strongest member of a team has an issue or needs leadership they turn to their sheppard; but who does the sheppard turn to? This is the answer to today's entry.

If you've read thus far and feel that "the sheppards" are speaking down to "the sheep" - well, we are. And the reason is because we all have the capacity to be both. Sheppards need someone to balance them out, to hear their concerns, to make them feel validated, and to encourage them from time to time. Isn't this the same thing the sheppard does all day for the sheep? exactly.

This is not to say once you've worked hard all day leading others that you should come home and dump your troubles on your wife; rather it means that just as the sheep can best relate to one another- it is very rewarding to finally find someone who understands the intricate challenges of leading people all day.

For all of us to make life more worth it within our own herd;
- be a better employee by trying to relate to your boss
- be a better employer or leader by trying to relate to those you lead
- be a better spouse by asking questions before unloading about your day
- be a better whatever-you-are by knowing who in your life makes it all worth it.

Without them, the struggles seem much tougher, and the victories go uncelebrated.

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