Monday, June 27, 2011

Follow the leader...

When I was a kid we played the game "Follow the Leader" and in case you are a product of the techno age and not well versed in staying out until the street lights came on or drinking water from a public fountain or only having four channels on the tube let me enlighten you.

First a leader or "head of the line" is chosen, then all the kids line up behind the leader. The leader then moves around and all of us had mimic the leader's actions. Any players who fail to do what the leader does are out of the game. The last person standing other than the leader is now the new leader. The leader of course can do anything they want to and everyone has to follow it or they are toast. I can imagine an adult version of that game but that's for another blog.

We have had some great leaders in our history...none really come to mind...but that's not the point. With the advent of technology and information there is no shortage of leaders...or followers. Recently motivational guru James Ray was convicted of allowing three of his "followers" to die in a "sacred sweat lodge" and eighteen other "followers" were carted off to the local ER. For all the good Ray might have done in the world with his books and seminars he will end up in prison with followers of a different sort I suspect. Its seems we have as many "life coaches" as we have lawyers and while there is great value in being a coach there is a danger in becoming a crutch.

Be it the President of the United States or the leader of the local PTA or leader of the pack, its in some of us to lead, to get out front, to put it on the line to boldly go where we have not gone before. Leaders according to my old friend Maj. John Buccarrelli are not born-they are made and becoming a leader is a choice. So then would be following a choice. In politics there is no shortage of wannabe leaders that spew all the right words and some wrong ones that give the appearance of leadership. Emulated by thousands that think like they do they are lifted above the followers like a modern day political Pied-Piper and shout from the bully pulpit "Follow Me!" Leaders need followers and vice versa-its a parasitic relationship that only works if the host stays healthy-and if not then both the host and the throngs of followers die off. Hitler thought he had a good idea and so did thousands of other frontal lobe missing countrymen. Its only when a group with a better idea came along and did something about it that things changed.

True leaders understand the relationship between them and their followers, they understand that the objective is to empower those that follow in such a way that they become leaders as well, in their own lives. Another may teach or tell but each has to do the work on their own. True leaders never get swallowed up in the adulation, they say "we" more than "me" and they understand that with great power comes even greater responsibility and conviction.

As more and more Presidential hopefuls jump on the bandwagon and throw out "God Bless America" more than Kate Smith ever did we have to consider the actions they have taken in the past and what they are asking us to mimic-and just like the kids game someone is going to get booted out. Might be Gingrich or Bachman or Mitt or Tim and then only one will be left standing. Most likely won't be James Ray. We are all flawed human beings that often masquerade as perfect human doings and when the inner and outer don't line up the headlines have a field day.

Good leaders are scarce, the best plan of action might be to follow yourself. I have always said that its important who and what is going on in the White House but its far more important who and what is going on in your house.

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