Webster’s dictionary defines a leader as: “a guide or conductor, a first or principal performer of a group, a person who directs a military force or unit, a person who has a commanding authority or influence.”
However, it is wrong.
It isn’t “wrong” because of the nature of its reference, nor is it wrong from a standpoint of common acceptance. It isn’t even wrong due to the term’s representation of how “leader’s” are perceived in contemporary society. In my opinion, it is wrong mostly because who a “leader” is has been blasphemized, manipulated and “hi-jacked” to become everything that a leader is not.
From the time we are very young, before we are even aware enough to understand we are alive, we are conditioned, influenced, “advertised,” “entertained,” indoctrinated and even punished into believing and accepting things in our society that are not entirely true. One of the more popular elements of this misrepresentation is how we recognize leaders in our communities and in the world.
Most of us have accepted the notion that politicians are leaders. After all, we “vote” them into office to represent us and our best interests regarding important issues; health, well-being, security and our quality of life. Yet, are politicians really “leaders?” They certainly seem to be presented as such by their party bases, constituents, the mainstream media, the entertainment industry, the other side of the aisle, etc. How many communication’s classes have politicians taken? How many leadership training programs have they completed to be a leader? What was their experience in “leadership” prior to their being elected into office? In what type of dynamic (workplace, environment, project, collection of people, etc.) was their leadership experience? What was the quality of their leadership?
My purpose in asking these questions is not simply to call for their qualifications to be “leading” hundreds, thousands or even millions of people, though we the people ought be doing this. My intent is to point out the startling fact, in our mainstream educational system, there are very few classes one can enroll in to become a “leader.” Let alone, how many “leaders” are really standing (supporting) for other people to become “leaders?” What is a leader?
For a moment, ponder the people in your life, the people in our society that are considered “leaders.” What qualities, characteristics, practices, behaviors and actions do they exhibit that emulates leadership? Is it that they tell people what to do, or how to do it? Is it that they conduct and direct every aspect of a project, an event, a job, an organization or an environment? Is it that they are conducting a class, an interview, a seminar, a ceremony, a meditation or a discussion group? Is it that they stand out in a crowd, are strong, influential, loud, bossy, expressive, outgoing and bold? Perhaps it is all of these. Perhaps not. Perhaps being a leader isn’t about being aggressive, proactive, overbearing, influential, a “go-getter,” “out in front of the crowd,” or the person to whom people are drawn and upon whom they rely.
We all have had experiences when we found ourselves in a leadership role; with a younger sibling, in school, at our job, in our family and in our community. We associate “leadership” to two or more people, a group, a team, a congregation, a workforce or a village. Yet, how often do we acknowledge our own leadership? How often do we embrace and practice the expression of our leadership in our “own” lives? How often do we disregard, diminish, dispose of or deny our own leadership in our lives because of a fear of claiming it and what the ownership of our personal leadership may require of us? How often to we surrender to the tides of our self-assassination?
It is easy for us not to empower or practice our leadership in our lives, let alone on a daily basis. Perhaps it is even easier to take time out of our busy lives to check a box on a ballot in a voting booth once in a while and hand over our personal responsibility, power and voice to people that are more than willing to take it from us. It would seem that it is easiest to stand in the shadows of our lives “dreaming,” “hoping” and “praying” that everything is going to turn out the way we desire it to be, without our intention, purpose or involvement. Even waiting for our appointed “leaders” to bring us what our hearts and souls yearn.
Though it may “seem” much easier to settle on this approach, living this way is more difficult than we can possibly imagine. So difficult that most of us may never experience the extraordinary opportunities and possibilities our lives may bring to us when we are living them to the fullest, when we are being leaders of our own lives. So difficult that we may never experience the inspiration living our lives with leadership may empower others to fulfill upon a commitment to their own.
The fact of the matter is that we are “all” leaders, when we choose to be, as we are meant to be. Being a leader is simply being our selves, the fullest expression of our potential. Only you can be the greatest of who you are. Only you can be you, in all your uniqueness and beauty. When we are being the best of who we are, the solutions transform the problems into opportunities so we may thrive in our lives. This success is measured in our health, happiness, peace, acceptance, creative expression, amicability, vitality and our relations with our communities.
Imagine when the majority of our society will live this way.
When we imagine this, it will become. This is how powerful we are as human beings.
We just have to accept, claim and express our power through our leadership by who we are being. It simply requires us to become who we are, in the fullest of our life expression. We are the only ones who can claim for ourselves the leadership we were born to be.