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What Leads Us?

Updated on December 11, 2016
Ericdierker profile image

I have written for profit since 1974. I have college degrees. I have traveled the world. 4 children. I do not write for profit here.

Am I crazy following these guys?

So I followed anyway.
So I followed anyway. | Source

Do we deny that we are following?

Did you ever think of the notion that probably about 90% of us are followers and probably 100% of us at one time or another? It is fun to think about leaders of nations, the way we say it is chronological and historical. Clinton followed Bush. Try it with someone who loves Clinton and hates Bush. For some reason there is a gut reaction to argue with this or at least adamantly make clear that we are only talking about “in time”.

Sometimes we use the concept of following someone to relieve us from the consequences of our actions. Some battlefield generals have led from the front and others from the rear of battle. I must admit that in general I sit in the back of the room in group meetings. In a wedding march the bride and groom follow the best man and maid of honor. B follows A in the alphabet. We often hear someone proclaim that they are led by the Holy Spirit. We follow someone’s advice, as we follow directions or instructions. A lady normally follows a man in dance. Hmm, does a penny lead or follow the nickel? You know that sometimes we follow our heart. Follow the bouncing ball is funny as we normally want to be in sync with it, not behind it.

I hope you are following me here. And I don’t mean here where I am sitting. But maybe follow me down the primrose path. I try to follow the golden rule but fail too often.

So there are many many meanings of this concept of following. Maybe we can sit back for a second and think about all these verbal and written meanings and come to some understanding. Why do we follow? Perhaps I am naïve but with my children I try to teach by explaining the reason for doing something a certain way. We don’t say “that is the wrong way” we say “try it this way”. We do not try to tell them to follow us, we try to get them to lead us. If we make the effort to follow a child, then we build self-confidence and just possibly they will see an error by watching us do it their way. (please do not think this excuses the need of being completely honest)

Just so classic. Wow, what a period of time.

I would follow my daughter anywhere!

Come on dad, the swimming hole is this way.
Come on dad, the swimming hole is this way. | Source

Can you have compassionate leadership?

So about leading. Is it possible that we can actually lead a person by simply rewarding good behavior? If we say “accomplish this” we are leading in a way, for we could say accomplish that. When you get a real sharp person, who is trying to do what you know how to do for the first time we find a teaching leading. And this brings us to a very cool concept; Teaching is the greatest form of leading.

The failure of doing something one way “leads” us to do things another way. Insanity is thought to be the doing of the thing, the same way that failed and expecting a different result. It would seem that quite often we are led by our past, including mistakes. I would like to think that the moral things that my father taught me stand firm but are quite often modified by following a person with a different bent.

I have spent a great deal of time and effort working with business organizations with differing areas of expertise. I normally am called in to make that expertise jive with the business and legal climate and society. Many call the people that do what I do “pollywogs”. Kind of a nerd that deals with policy issues. Here is a fun example. The company builds and designs websites. They are fantastic. They are so darned good at it that their creations are cutting edge, state of the art. Here is the human interface: Most users are not cutting edge and state of the art. The perfect website that does not lead the average user in the right direction with ease, will in fact lead the consumer elsewhere. So we can even lead someone somewhere that we completely do not want them to go by our own hubris. “Look how badass I am, watch this” seldom is a way to lead. So there was this art aficionado who had a rich man client. She led him to a wonderful Paul Gauguin piece, Gauguin is who said: “Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” The rich man hated it and fired the haughty aficionado. The rich man liked Norman Rockwell. You do not lead a house cat to water – yes you lead a horse there and you still cannot make him drink. You do not lead a housewife into battle and you do not lead a Marine into a fine China shop. Although clearly there are exceptions.

Fine lyrics

To lead a child

The scared question a new father must ask is if he can lead his child.
The scared question a new father must ask is if he can lead his child. | Source

Love is the keystone of leading and following.

I do a lot of spiritual stuff. I have spent a lot of time studying comparative religions and some time as minister and some more as a preacher. I studied Buddhism in Asia and Native American spirituality in North Eastern Arizona, and Catholicism in France. No self-righteous pompous Sunday morning preacher man is going to lead me to Christ. Only Christ can lead me to follow him. You send the message of fire and brimstone and hell at me instead of love and I would not follow into the spiritual gutter where into which I will push you.

Do not lead a child out into the wonders of nature. Open the door and follow him. Lead him by knowing much about nature, from stars to earthworms. Do not lead a child by shuffling her off to Sunday school instead lead by being open to questions. Wait, what is all this talk about children? We use it as a model of teaching someone who is open minded.

What is not leading? In regard to people judgment is the opposite of leading. Not leading is not teaching. Certainty without an open mind is not leading. Forcing our convictions on another is not leading. Refusing to learn is not leading. One thing is certain, without love and passion one cannot lead. For if that is the case the leading turns into manipulation and that is the idea of a false prophet.

The best times I have ever had involve two kinds of following. Following a family member and following my passion. I once had a great leader/teacher, his name was Melvin Belli. I did preparation work for him as he flew into town on a private jet and reviewed the facts and law and theory of a case. He was a master. I a fledgling student. What he really wanted was a lessor to lead him into the matters that were of importance and not distract him from the goal. He had a knack to absorb. The mistakes I made, he said, gave him insight into the workings of a layman juror. In other words it was partially my ignorance that he was looking for and following. A look from an honest common man. He allowed me to lead him, the master. The experience led me to the most important of all leadership. Know who you are leading. Be a student of them first before a leader of them.

I hope this article makes your head spin for a moment so you lose your tether to what you think and believe. Not so that you follow me, but rather so you are not hindered by preconceived notions that you either follow or lead with.

Much love in the month of loving.

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I reckon just like spouses.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      You knew you couldn't do what they did, and they knew they couldn't do what you were doing! Mutual respect for each other's skills, always works!

      Great stuff

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence you made me think of one of the few times in my life that I directed people to do what I could not do. I was a Global Internet Strategist regarding policy. Though I did not know how the techies did it we had to try and squeeze a square peg into a round hole. Best buddies to this day and as I think about it, it was over 2 decades ago.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 7 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      I thought I was going to disagree at one point and say that leadership should always be by example (personally I think the corporate world fails a lot here! Many of its managers haven't done the roles they ask their workforce to do!)

      But then I read on, and I agree.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Dianna,

      Your experience matches mine.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 8 months ago

      Thank you for the refresher on leadership. In my work experience, I found those that led by example were the best teachers.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I can just hear my brother saying "not genius, genus you moron". Very fun, thanks.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 8 months ago from Maple City, Michigan

      Eric, if by genius you mean genus, then you've still got it. haha. Very good.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Chris you describe a most wonderful gift to our children. I just have to figure that sometimes we follow angels. My eighth and ninth grade botany and biology teacher was also my ski coach. We would go for runs 4 days a week and stop and recite scientific names along with common ones for plants along the way. Let me see if I still have it KPOCFS?

      Any how thank you for supporting your wife that truly supported children.

      Oops, forgot genius

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 8 months ago from Maple City, Michigan

      My late wife, a science teacher among a myriad of other things, knew instinctively what you are talking about here. She never pressed information into the heads of eighth graders. She walked with them, literally, in the outdoors, showing them geological features of northern Michigan, allowing them to see, experience and discover the treasures that surrounded them every day.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana, it is so liberating to have a child actually lead you to a grasshopper or ladybug upon a mallow. Just today on a lark I asked a homeless man to lead me to his encampment. He was not interested in following me to a food bank. Dana, I just do not know where this journey will end, I just hope it does not.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 8 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      Interesting article. I always thought of myself as neither a leader or a follower but a person who marched to the beat of her own drum. Now I know that's not true I think in away we are all both.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora isn't that interesting? That certainly was my construct also. For some reason I had this notion that almost seems to come from a mental picture I have of a Roman general always leading the fight on a big white stallion. Another is George Washington crossing the Potomac in the front of the lead boat.

      Now I seem to be lead by Jesus. And He seems to use a push-pull method. And of course taught by His word both printed and everyday.

      Thanks for getting me to think more about that.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby I surely do appreciate you gong on like you do. You made me think of the rebellion most generations have. Somethings I rebelled against in late teens, some in my twenties and what amazes me is that I am rebelling now. Those hardcore "drilled into us" values. They worked for me in my thirties but not today. Fifty years and I still am just getting around to checking into some values pounded into me at nine.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Tim, there is an attribute that I look for in a leader and that is that they are always learning. I would hope that would include learning from others.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 8 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, I once heard an argument that no one can lead from behind. Your article makes me rethink that. "Teaching is the greatest form of leading." The teacher does not always stand at the front. Thanks for sharing your views.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 8 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I must admit that I've been a follower my entire life, oh I was a leader when I taught my son right from wrong, but now, I wonder, was I completely right. I grew up listening to my grandmother's preacher yelling fire and brimstone. I had to unlearn before I could learn. My son had to do the same. There's not a day passes that I don't see something in a different light. Thinking back about my grandmother, that was what she believed and today I respect that. There are many beliefs and different paths, but we all have the same goal. Your sermon's tend to make me go on and on and on!!!!! Good lesson today Eric...

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 8 months ago from Escondido, CA

      I liked 'following the child builds confidence'. In my perspective it builds confidence in both. Confidence of the learner and the teacher. I think this quote rings very true too, "In other words it was partially my ignorance that he was looking for and following".

      Thanks for the insightful Hub Eric . . .

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John you just reminded me of my mom. In her home she was totally the boss leading us all. But get her out for some fun and she would seem to really enjoy not being in charge.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 8 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful advice Eric. Leading and following are very popular terms with a host of different applications. I find it easier to follow than to lead, but sometimes the latter is required. I think you have to be able to do both to be successful in life.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 8 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ageyv thank you. You make me happy. So true are your words. I like to learn how to follow so that I can lead. I would get in trouble on the playground, my mom would ask "who did you follow?". And then give me a little spank and say "get out there and lead". I suppose a little thing just between us.

    • Raine Sky profile image

      T S Sky 8 months ago from Saint Louis, MO.

      We must know how to lead and follow in order to be good leaders. I love this article. Thank you for writing it.