Go First

I have spent most of my life believing in the power of good leadership.  I was convinced that people were following my boss and I because we were leading.  Now I think it’s simply that most people are just uncomfortable going first, of being the only one.

Any time there is big change in the world, there are a bunch of people who are quick to say that they have always felt that the ‘new way’ was the right thing all along, and they knew it.  Usually we just laugh at this cliche and just call them poseurs, or other less savory names.

But what if they’re right?  Everybody has a million ideas flit through their heads every day.   All the things they want to do.  All the things they should do.  They don’t have time for a tenth of it.  So they ignore most of it and concentrate on things like keeping their children clean, and staying employed.  Much of the rest is dismissed out of hand, because if you stick your neck out, people might make fun of you.  Maybe yell at you.  Maybe fire you.  Too risky.  Take the safe option instead.

But then one day you see a guy minding his own business.  He looks happy.  He doesn’t have a care in the world.  But he’s doing one of those million things you wish you could do.  And nobody is laughing at him, nobody is yelling, and he appears to be employed.  Huh.  Maybe you could do it too.  Was he leading?  Was he serving as an example?  Was he living his values?  No.  He just didn’t wait for permission.  He just did it.

They say a hero is someone who is afraid to do the right thing but does it anyway.  When they interview these people, they almost always say the same thing, “Look, nobody else was doing anything so I just did it.  I had to.  I didn’t think about it.” Often he or she is embarrassed or even dismissive of the attention.  He wasn’t being special or making a statement.  He certainly wasn’t ‘leading’ anyone.  He just did it.

He just went first. That’s all.  And maybe that’s everything.

About innerjason

Software Developer
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