Are you a leader or a follower? Be honest, you feel like you need to answer “leader” don’t you? We are always hearing about leadership and how important it is. Nobody wants to be a follower! That means that you have no will of your own, that you can’t think, that you are less-than… Right? Hmmm, I beg to differ. I propose that being a leader means following. Think of following as listening, serving, gently guiding. That’s leadership, isn’t it?

Being a leader doesn’t mean going it alone. It’s not about pushing forward and willing everyone to follow you. It’s more about knowing how to process input, deduce a direction, and gather everyone together towards a greater and common goal. If you really stop and consider the situation, you’ll see that the actions, thoughts, and needs of those around you are what are directing you to lead. So, are you following, or leading now?

Alright, well this isn’t a blog devoted to leadership studies so bear with me if you wondering why the heck I’m talking about this. I answer with this question:  does your life lead or follow you? Woah, deep question, man. Let me rephrase: What causes you to act and think as you do? Is it just people, expectations, and societal norms that determine how you live your life? Or does it come from a solitary place of knowing exactly where to go regardless of those around you? Are you like those little kickboards you use when learning to swim, being pushed by the events and people in your life? Or are you an island with an outboard, not needing anyone but yourself? Either way when you are in the lead, aren’t you still following from the front?

Island with an outboard, gee, that sounds like fun. I get to direct myself, go where I will, and not worry about anything or anyone behind me. Sounds like freedom, to me! Of course, if I don’t know where to go because I’m just yelling Wheeee then I could get into trouble. But a kickboard can’t steer, is kind of slow, and just sits and floats unless there is a force behind it. What if I get pushed in the wrong direction? Now that I think about it, both sound bad. Or, good?

We need a sense of direction, and we need some help getting moving, sometimes. When we are healthy and centered, we can listen to our higher selves and hear which way to go. This makes moving along much less stressful. But there is a BUT, too. There are people in our lives, and jobs, and homes, and communities, and we are interconnected in a way that makes it impractical to go it alone. Listening to our inner voice is critical if we want to truly be present in our lives. If we are inauthentic, it will come to the surface sooner or later. We need to know how our actions fit in with those we love, and be willing to function as a symbiotic being. Without giving up our personal truth, we can still share our own genius, and connect with those around us. This skill is key to a fully human existence.

Ask yourself, “Am I leading my life? Am I following my life? How can I make the best of both so that they are one and the same?” When you know who you are, and know what genius you bring to the world, you will see that you can lead from within a group, or in front, or behind. Leading your life is just following your inherent wisdom. Encircle yourself with the people and things that benefit from your genius, and encourage you to lead with it.

Go forth!