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Stop looking for a leader; be one

by Mark Metz about a month ago in selfcare

leadership begins with you

Stop looking for a leader; be one
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Guidance is among the strongest of immaterial desires. We want to be inspired. We want to be motivated. And so many times, we look to other people as being the main source behind us achieving these desires. We want someone to look up to; someone who we can aspire to be like. Someone to lead us.

It’s difficult not to wonder if the prevailing thought, when it comes to guidance, is that we can only better ourselves when someone is there to motivate and inspire us every step of the way. And that when we finally do find this person — this inspirational leader in our lives — they can do no wrong. They’re exactly what we’ve been looking for; and even when they’re not, we convince ourselves otherwise.

We can finally live the life we feel we’re supposed to live because of our fearless leader who is now paving the way for us. That is, until they finally do let us down, or until we’ve moved on to someone else.

This constant looking around for someone to follow, someone to direct us in ways that makes us feel good can be an issue. The desire to be led by strong, capable people who, for a time, can do no wrong creates more issues for us than what is necessary. Sure, at face value, there’s nothing wrong with trying to find people who can provide us inspiration and motivate us to do good things.

But there is something wrong with thinking this person is or needs to be perfect in our eyes. We either want our leaders to have the same exact belief system as we do, or that we must succumb to possessing the same one as them. The same opinions, and even the same thought patterns, if we can figure out what they are.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t have role models in life; people we can look up to and learn from is not the problem here. The problem is in the aforementioned making perfect the person we look to lead us, as well as in too often seeking these people out instead of actually trying to become one of them ourselves.

Eventually, the vast majority of the people we consider to be leaders in our lives will move on, either us from them or them from us. And for those who we’ve moved on from negatively, that still doesn’t have to be our lasting memory of them. Anyone we’ve learned from we should be thankful to have had in our lives. Definitely for all of the positive we gained from them, but also for the negative, because we now have an idea of how not to be. How not to lead.

But do you see how that’s not looking to the person, but rather to the qualities, ideas, and principles behind a person? Look to these first and foremost. Take the things you have learned from people and combine them with your own core beliefs and principles and become the type of leader that you want to find for yourself. Strive to become the perfect leader for your life as opposed to constantly searching for someone to carry that mantle for you. You will indeed let yourself down from time to time, but the beautiful part of letting yourself down is that you’re the only person in this world who can then hold yourself 100% accountable in not letting it happen again.

Your counter may be that you’re not a “natural born leader.” To which I would reply that there is no such thing. You aren’t born a leader. You become one.

Leadership is something you have to learn. Something you develop and strive to become better at every single day. You don’t have to be the most charismatic person in the room in order to be the best leader in the room. You don’t have to be the smartest, strongest, or sexiest. Leaders aren’t the people on TV, in the movies, or on the media. They aren’t the people everyone else is looking up to. They aren’t our politicians or our sports or entertainment stars. The best leaders in the world can and should be you. You just have to do the work in actually becoming one. And that’s not going to happen if you’re spending all of your time looking for someone else to do the job.

Be true to yourself and your beliefs, be genuine, and have the highest amount of integrity. Be the person you’ve been looking for, because you’re probably the only one in your circle who’s capable of being that person. And finally, after you’ve stopped looking for someone to follow, look to lead others. But, in the interest of not sounding like a hypocrite, don’t lead in order to gain followers. Lead with the intention of creating other leaders.

Mark Metz
Mark Metz
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Mark Metz

Hello! I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan and I'm a freelance writer. I focus mainly on politics, personal growth, and short stories that are typically fantasy or futuristic.

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