First published on www.huffingtonpost.com on 29/09/2016
What is it about someone that makes us want to follow them?
We’ve all had people in our lives that have caught our attention for some reason – whether it be because of a song they’ve sung, a picture they’re in, places they’ve been, clothes they are wearing, the job that they do, something we’ve read about them, the things that they say to us.
We become obsessed with them, hang on their every word, and use them as a role model to shape who we should become and the things we should be doing.
We hanker for every last scrap of information about them so we can mimic our lives on theirs.
Whole industries are built around us reacting in this manner. There are international conglomerates whose existence relies on us following the lead of an ‘icon’.
We then take the lead we’ve been given and filter it into our local community.
In schools, sports teams, workplaces, families and friendship groups there are individuals who seem to naturally rise to the top of the pack as the ‘leader’.
Our social conditioning from a very young age teaches us to rely on the community around us to survive.
This means that we are always looking for the answers to our questions outside us.
We want to fit in – we want our community to accept us – and we don’t want to do anything that the people around us might deem inappropriate.
We’re conditioned to seek approval – to be accepted – to be praised. The same conditioning means we settle into a life of auto-pilot responses that ensure we don’t upset anyone around us.
Our lives settle into a black and white pattern with an occasional, tiny splash of colour that comes from us glimpsing something new and exciting in someone else’s life.
We wait with baited breath to see whether the colour is accepted by society and if it is then we bring it into our own lives and it filters down into the lives of those who follow us.
When do we stop to ask whether the person we are following is a leader?
When do we stop to ask whether the leaders we’ve chosen are actually leading or simply walking at the head of the pack?
What are you following? Are you following someone simply because you think they have a better life than you? Do they have the answers you need – or can you find the answers within yourself?
When is it time to step away from the noise in your life and give credence to the answers you have for your questions?
As long as we rely on everyone around us to provide us with our answers we will always be following from the front.
If you want to be a true leader you must learn to find your answers from within; you must learn that it is OK to walk on your own whether others follow you or not; you must learn that you are the most important part of the equation of your life.
Being a true leader is as simple as thinking a bit differently.
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Bronwen Sciortino is a Simplicty Expert and Professional Speaker and the author of ‘Keep It Super Simple – Tips from a Recovering Perfectionist’. Join the conversation by subscribing to the tribe at www.sheiqlife.com; Facebook; Instagram or LinkedIn.