Someone asked me one day do I believe whether I’m a follower or a leader? Well, my first instinct was to say, I’m most definitely a leader. But, before I blurted out my answer I had to place things in proper perspective. First, how must I define the word follower? Does it mean I follow everybody, never considering my own values and morals in the process; or does it mean if I’m a leader I don’t follow? But we all should understand you must be able to follow before you can lead. After considering the question, it caused me to think about those who will lead, but lead only in manipulation; and those that will follow; following, only to be accepted.
Today I am aware of what the wrong type of leading and following can do. But it doesn’t stop me from thinking about those who have and still do. Sometimes I ask myself, how come so many of us allow others to dictate our behavior, and/or our actions? Well, I can sit here all-day and think of a number of reasons behind why this occurs. But instead, I would rather discuss how we can get away from people like this.
I read an article some time ago that discussed the 20 people we don’t need in our life, but I’m not going to go into all of them. Instead I would rather provide some assistance to help understand whether or not you have anyone like this in your life currently. First, ask yourself, those that are in your life at this very minute; are they helping you to be better? Have you become a better person since these individuals have been in your life? Or, do you feel you have to conform just for their acknowledgment in order to have some form of friendship or in order to be accepted? When considering these questions how does it make you feel looking at it from this perspective? When I asked myself these questions, I quickly realized that I have been doing this for a very long time, but I believe it is only because I learned at a very early age how people can truly be; even those that you believe to be great friends.
A pastor once said to me, “Knowing who you are divides you from the rest and creates the right type of leader, because leaders have unique abilities.” But then thought, sometimes your uniqueness may cause troubling times and a limited number of friendships and relationships. However, I would rather be true to myself rather than be with a crowd just to be accepted; where does your character lie? Remember this, character has five crucial areas: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring and fairness; the areas that will help an individual to determine their response regardless of the situation.
There was a time I worked with an individual who constantly spoke of the female anatomy in what I believed to be deplorable and immature. However, other women around didn’t take offense to his behavior. I believed that many of these women enjoyed it because they thought it was flattering; it was disgusting and upsetting, which is the reason why I made a complaint. I thought for sure others would want to as well; no one was willing though. Once I made the complaint, it somewhat backfired and pretty much everyone stopped talking to me. It bothered me initially, but then again I’m pretty resilient and if I had to, I would file another complaint and keep filing until the appropriate actions took place. A couple months had gone by and I found myself filing another complaint against him, but again, nothing was being done, until finally I took my complaint higher and requested a transfer. At that moment I was very proud of myself for not being a coward like the others.
The reason why I tell this story is because it is a great example of being unique and the characteristics that make for a good leader. Although nothing happened initially in my complaint and others stopped talking to me, my complaint was the factoring reason why others received the disciplinary action they did.
Being different or unique isn’t always easy, and it shouldn’t be. But, there is something special among those who aren’t afraid to be different. Friendships/relationships are very important as well, and of course there will be times we need to follow as previously stated above, but never let it be so important it compromises the true you and take away the blessing of being unique, something that separates you from the rest.