As a general rule, I think all of us would like to think that we are capable of inspiring others.
That we are seen by our peers as a leader among them.
That they look up to us…
Want to be like us…
BUT… What is leadership, exactly?
How does a person become a leader?
Let’s explore that question together today…
Leadership is not the same as running a race or climbing a mountain.
We do not cross the leadership finish line,
Reach the leadership summit.
There have been times when I thought if I could just somehow manage to check off all the boxes on some invisible checklist, I would become a leader.
I believed that the path of a leader started with schooling. I believed that I just needed to finish school, to get enough experience, to win enough votes.
I innocently believed that my dream life would just magically appear after a certain set of circumstances had been fulfilled…
But that is NOT even close to what happened in my life.
I got married right out of high school to a man who would not support my dreams of a college degree in Criminal Psychology.
I never attended college at all.
But even though my choices have led me down a very different path than the one I had envisioned as a youth, I did manage to succeed at quite a few of my goals.
Those small successes taught me that checking off boxes on some imaginary checklist is not how leadership is formed.
Through my years as a battered woman, I also discovered another truth about leadership…
Leadership is not about controlling people.
It is about helping them be free.
I was raised in a culture where a woman willingly submits to the loving authority of her husband.
I was taught that the man is ordained by God to be the LEADER in the home.
But how was I to submit to a cruel and unfair man?
It was through my experience of living as a single woman that I discovered that REAL leaders allow the people they lead to FLY.
They encourage growth and progress.
They reward innovation.
By giving them freedom, they create a type of loyalty that no amount of money or power could ever purchase.
I also discovered that we do not achieve leadership.
It is not something that is suddenly bestowed upon us. Leadership is EARNED.
It is earned through trust, commitment, and by keeping your word in every situation.
We cannot teach someone else to become a leader by following in our footsteps.
It would be really nice if we could, but it simply is impossible to “watch and learn” leadership qualities.
The qualities of a true leader come from deep within.
They come from the heart and soul of the leader.
A leader possesses a passion and level of integrity that cannot be taught.
You either get it or you don’t!
Becoming a leader means finding and following our own paths.
We do not accomplish leadership.
We do not reach a special place where we are recognized as leaders.
We cannot become leaders by reading, or writing, certain books or passing exams.
Leadership is not about arriving.
Here is the simple yet extremely profound truth I have discovered…
Every day, every step, of leadership is about exploring.
A leader explores themselves.
They explore other people.
And they explore the world together.
It is when we learn to explore,that we can finally begin to discover.
We discover our true selves, hidden behind complicated, self manufactured, defenses.
As we explore our inner depths, we share what we find with the people around us.
The exploration and discoveries we share inspire other people to explore.
There have been many times when I post a blog where I share an experience, and I have several comments about how a person I have never met can relate to my experiences.
Then they will often share their experience with me.
Their act of sharing has often given me the information I needed to move to the next step with a particular issue.
It is in that way that the spark of leadership spreads one person at a time.
I have found that Leadership is more like a story than climbing a mountain or running a race.
Our story grows deeper as we explore and we share it with others.
They hear our story,
their stories grow,
and they share.
Leadership is not something we accomplish.
It is something we share.