Being A Leader, A Follower, Or Both

I have a friend that sometimes annoys the hell out of me when she says:

“That person is such a follower, they’re not a leader, they just do what ever that other guy wants.  They can’t think for themselves.”   

The names have been removed to protect the innocent.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before and sometimes I even question myself and wonder where I fall in this scenario.    Am I a leader?  Or a follower?   Do I just take orders and advice blindly, or do I put some thought into it first?   Most recently, while pondering the cracks in my ceiling before falling asleep, (okay there are none, but it sets a mood) I realized it’s beneficial to be a little bit of both.  We should know when it’s best for us to let our inner leader shine and take command, and know when to let someone else do the driving, be the follower we need to be, and learn a thing or two.  Sometimes we might even realize that we’re following to a point that we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves, and that’s not a good thing.   When we do that, we give up a part of who we are, a slice of our identity, a hand it over to someone that may or may not know what’s in our best interest.  That sort of following can be seen in many areas of society, most notably in religious organizations and political affiliations.

Critical thinking and free thought has turned into a scarce commodity in our country.   From the time we wake up, to the time we go to sleep, we are bombarded with information that attempts, in most cases, to make us think a certain way in regards to what we buy, who we give money to, who we vote for and what we should  have for dinner… or not.  This relentless feed of choices and decisions that must be made results in feeling overwhelmed, and we willingly, and quite gratefully, hand those decisions to others to be made on our behalf.   Look no further than a restaurant which offers meals by numbers to see this in action.    Many customers, if not most, feel a certain sense of relief when a meal is neatly combined with other options, leaving the guess work to someone else.    It’s often masked as being “convenient” but in fact we’re just giving up control… and it’s okay.

Here’s where it can get rather tricky.  After you’ve ordered enough value meals, and clicked “I Agree.”  on hundreds of terms and conditions and privacy notices, your brain becomes hard wired for “following,” and trusting others with all sorts of rights and privileges, which you have no clue what they actually do or don’t include.  As a nation we have been trained to “click” and move on, without reason to believe otherwise.  Pretty scary shit if you ask me.  Not only because of the obvious ramifications, which we’re currently seeing played out on the global stage, but this sort of willingness to give up control can bleed into our personal lives as well, and with equally devastating consequences.

Apple’s never ending license agreement which everyone seems to agree to or they can’t use their phones.

Balance is critical in our lives, now more than ever before.    In every aspect of our society we are being pushed in one direction, or being pulled in another.    Choosing when to lead and when to follow is no different.   Finding that sweet spot of knowing is the key.    For some people, especially supreme independent thinkers (and we’re not all independent thinkers trust you me,) this is an easier task since decisions are made with the utmost objectivity.   For others, it can’t be daunting and arduous, as many don’t feel comfortable making decisions on their own.    So when do we know when to step in and take the lead?   By listening to our gut, our primal instincts… otherwise known as our stomachs.

When you trust someone to make decisions for you, it should feel fluid and relaxing, without fear or prejudice.   You should be able to down a greasy pork sandwich with ease at the same time you’re allowing this individual, or organization, to take the reins and lead you cross-country across the Oregon Trail.   However, when you get that sick to your stomach feeling, or you find yourself becoming agitated or resented, it’s time to take a step back and figure out if this is what you signed up for.   Perhaps this isn’t the right church, political party, person to date, pretty girl to marry or value meal to order.   Listening to your heart, or rather your stomach, will give you a clear indication when something just isn’t right and it’s time to move on. Or in some cases, do more research.  Humans have an incredible innate ability to sense deception and danger if they would only learn to trust it, not ignore the signs or not turn it off intentionally and follow blindly.  Alternatively, this can be a clear indication that you’ve reached a point in your life when you’re ready to spread your own wings, and become a leader yourself.

The next time that friend of mine criticizes someone for not being a leader, they might not being seeing the entire picture.   Perhaps this is by choice, and they’re choosing the right time for subservience, as a tactical advantage of sorts.   Or perhaps they’re stuck, fallen into the sticky trap that is constant noise coming from every possible information source imaginable, and they just need to disconnect and detox for a while.   What ever the reason, it all boils down to being aware that you actually have choices, and why you’re making them.  Knowing what’s for dinner wouldn’t hurt either.



I Know Things

I was driving back from lunch this afternoon and parked the car, when I was suddenly blessed with this little poem in my head.

I know things

I know things that most let pass by.
I know the bird that soars, across the morning sky.

I know the child that’s ignored by their kin,
Laughing still, because of love within.

I know the lost dog, searching for a home.
Wanting someone to hold them and say they’re not alone.

I know the serpent, hiding in the grass.
Just wanting to live, waiting for a meal to pass.

I know the man, with bitter and anger on his face.
His life suddenly gone, not leaving but a trace.

I know the woman, weeping in her hands.
Trying so hard to keep it together, and dealing with life’s demands.

I know the world, that’s crying for change.
Wondering when the balance of power, will finally rearrange.

I know these things and I keep it to myself.
All of them inside, on a tiny little shelf.

Michael Robert

So This Is Podcasting

A little over a week ago, my friend and co-worker Nzinga told me he was listening to a podcast and thought I’d be really good at doing one myself.    He even took it a step further and said he had this “strong urge” to tell me.  Of course this pushed all my spiritual buttons about diving timing and law of attraction, so I just had to do it.   It’s not too far a reach from my other hobby, video production, so I’m pretty familiar with the editing, software, hardware, etc. associated with putting something like this together.   It was just a matter of slightly shifting my perspective.  Less than a week after the conversation, I was recording my first podcast, the energy behind the idea had gained so much momentum, I wanted to do it before I convinced myself it was a bad idea.    So I took the leap and didn’t look back… yet.

“Holy shit! What do I say?”

I’ve never really put too much thought into doing a podcast.   I’ve been on the radio a couple of times, doing promotional spots for a local bay cleanup event, but a podcast?  The weird thing is when Nzinga mentioned the idea, it just made a lot of sense.   I mean why not?    I already conquered one fear of mine and started blogging, I have a YouTube channel with a couple of videos, why not take the next step?  After all I really love to talk as many of my friends and co-workers have made a point of telling me.   I guess I’ve reached a point in my life where you realize you have to just go for it and see what happens, the worst outcome being that you fail.   At least you can always say you tried.   That actually ended up becoming the topic of my first episode, following your dreams and thinking positive. 

The most interesting thing about this experience, so far, is listening to myself over and over again during the editing process.   Since it’s generally unscripted, you find yourself critiquing the way you talk, the intonation in your voice and just about everything else.  I’m even wondering if I sound too gay!   What’s up with that?    And what does too gay sound like anyway?  Sometimes I find myself listening as if I’m someone else, and that sort of freaks me out, like an audible out of body experience of sorts.    Is that even a thing?

If things go as scheduled I’ll be publishing my podcast in just a few more days.   It will be available here under the “Podcast” tab that doesn’t exist yet.   While I’m super excited, there’s that part of me, that little voice in my head that says “you’re stupid for doing this”, that’s trying to gain a foothold.  I’m pretty confident I’m gonna win this battle and while it’s a little scary, perhaps a year from now I’ll be wondering why I didn’t do this sooner.  Let’s see where this journey takes me.

Break a leg Mike.