I know that you’ve heard the saying “Be a leader, and not a follower” a lot, probably more often than you even care to count. This saying is particularly used towards those who are aspiring to run their own businesses and striving for successes of great measure. I always believed in that saying, for the most part and have always tried to steer clear from ever being put in the category of being a follower. However, I recently have come to a realization that you can’t really be a true leader if you have never known what it is to follow.
I mean following is essentially being a team player. Learning how to work within a setting where it is not just your opinion that matters and things don’t just rely on what you say but on what others say or do as well. After all, once you reach your leadership status, you are asking others that are working for you to be that team player right, and follow you on your journey to help build your dream and your legacy up. Is it not only fair that you, the leader, would have some knowledge of what it is like to be a part of a team, to work with others to form a well working collaboration, to in essence, follow.
How can you blindly ask people to do something for you that you have never at one time had to do for anyone else? You can’t. In all actuality, unless someone was just born into wealth and an already built legacy, you have to follow for quite some time before you ever get to lead anyone. So where did this saying come from? Where did people get the idea that following at some point in your life, is a bad thing? Yes you have people who are natural born leaders but they too must first be followers before they can learn how to lead anyone.
I think that sometimes people get hung up on this saying and pass up on many opportunities that would allow growth within themselves because they don’t want to be labeled as a follower. I myself have done that. Passed on something that would mean I am helping someone else build up their dream but yet taking away from working on building up my own. Not even realizing at the time that those whose dreams that I help to build can then show me the way to in turn build up my own. I may have not seen certain situations for the opportunities that they truly were, all because I didn’t want anyone to ever see me as a follower and not the leader I know I was destined to be.
But see the good thing about getting older and making certain mistakes is that you also get wiser and learn how to work smarter. One of the bigger lessons that I am learning now is that in order to lead you must first learn how to follow. It is the lessons that you learn while following others that you can then take into your journey of leadership. So remember that before you turn your back on opportunities that require you to follow all because you don’t like that label. All leaders were once followers. Stay focused and pay attention!
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