I often receive messages of wisdom when I am in water. This time, I was swimming in the neighborhood pool.
I was trying to decide whether to swim in the “slow” lane— for slower swimmers—or the “fast” lane. I started in the fast lane. I noticed that sharing the lane with fast swimmers motivated me to swim faster. It filled me with a sense of competitive energy as I did my best to keep up. Was I a leader or a follower then? Definitely a follower.
When the lane got too crowded, I switched to the slow lane. Although I loved the sense of accomplishment I had felt in the fast lane, I also loved the feeling of being the fastest swimmer in the slow lane. Was I a leader or a follower then? Definitely a leader.
It made me think. (You probably know by now that metaphors make me think.)
Who do I want to be—a leader or a follower?
Let me ask you the same question, beloved.
Who do you want to be—a leader or a follower?
If you are like many women I know, you are a beacon—a source of light and a guide to others. You wear the “educator” hat when you talk to your children. You put on the “caregiver” hat when helping your parents. Your nurturing personality and keen sense of responsibility make you the one who friends, family, and colleagues look to for answers.
The consequence of leading others all the time, however, is that you’re drained, depleted, and overwhelmed. It takes energy to manage and take care of so many people.
Leader or follower—why can’t we be both?
“He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” ―Aristotle
Leadership and followership go hand in hand. You’ll be a better leader to your family members if you guide them in the right direction and then step back and let them find their way. You’ll be a better leader at work if you empower others and then inhabit a space of listening and supporting.
What would it look like if you shifted your focus from leading others to leading yourself?
When I host workshops, I often ask my sisterhood of beacons who they are leading. The answers I get usually focus on other people. Rarely do women say, “I lead myself.”
Years ago, when I felt hopeless and out of control—as if life was happening to me—I couldn’t see the simple truth: I have the power to be the leader of my own life. It is in my hands to accept responsibility to move my own life forward. As soon as I became the leader of my own life, miracles happened: I found a program to improve my relationship with food, and I lost 90 pounds. My health got better. I became a certified life coach and started making contributions to the world that were meaningful for me.
My personal transformation led me to create the Beacons of Change community to help thousands of women become the leaders of their lives and live at full power. At the same time, I teach these beacons that we must make space to be followers as well. To let go. To listen. To ask for help. To accept help. To delegate. To allow others to find their own way.
Again: Leadership and followership go hand in hand.
Here is the bottom line:
- You have the power to be the leader of your life and to move your life forward.
- You must lead not only others but also yourself.
- You will bring more ease into your life when you embrace both your roles as a leader and a follower.
And now, beloved, let me ask you again:
Who do you want to be? A leader or a follower?