What Leads Us?
Am I crazy following these guys?
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!
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.
To lead a child
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.