September 17, 2012

What Makes You a Leader?

On one particular day, I was told by three different parties that I was a “natural leader.”

Each one of these comments was made in a different context, and with each one, I inquired into the meaning behind the choice of words.

The first came from a remarkable friend of mine. She is about 35 years old, and a PhD qualified former college professor who is the founder and starter of a website dedicated to providing an information portal for anybody seeking therapy. She emulates an alternative lifestyle, and the two of us became friends easily. In the comfort of her office (where I used to be a receptionist), I have felt comfortable sharing all of the positives and negatives of my world. And she dutifully listened and provided beautiful advice. It had been a month of so since we had talked, and to let her into things I was doing, I gave her my blog address.And she responded to that email with, “Greer you are such a natural leader.”

In this context, I see being a leader as not being afraid to express my emotions, fears or anxieties, and allowing people to follow my lead, and therefore not be afraid themselves. There is nothing to be afraid of, and part of the reason I am so willing to share is because I know that no matter who reads my entries, someone understands at least a portion of what I’m going through. Even if the connection is small, the connection is there.

The second person who called me a leader was a man who has taken me under wing in my pursuit of becoming a great rock climber. He has taught me the essentials to being a good and safe climber and has let me tag along numerous times with him on great climbs. Very patient, he lets me ask 1,000,000 questions and always leaves room for one more. But we were discussing a friend of his, who he referred to as someone who always likes to lead and never likes to follow. He mentioned that he got the same impression from me, only in the sense that I like to lead as well. The only difference between someone like his friend and someone like me was that I make it an absolute priority to lead and be led.

In this life, we must always be willing to learn, because every day is an evolution. I have never met anyone who had the entirety of this complex life figured out. I don’t want to have it all figured out. I want to learn and take lessons from every day. That was one of the best compliments I have ever received.

The third time, I was climbing that morning, and there was a group of men climbing a route next to ours. I found myself lead climbing a very difficult and high portion of this mountain face, and discovered that I was extremely close to getting to the top all on my own. It was an incredibly liberating and exciting ascent for me, and it was a completely new experience.

As I reached the top, I felt an ultimate sense of accomplishment. I had felt scared on the way up, felt vulnerable, but at the same time overwhelmed my fears of danger by taking small and carefully determined steps. Before I knew it, I couldn’t go any further. After landing safely on two feet on the ground, one man from the group next to us immediately said, “you are a leader.”

I guess that may be a key element of a leader: not letting the internal fears and anxieties prevent you from reaching your ultimate goal. For at the completion, you are empowered, fearless and unstoppable.

Be a leader in your own life, whatever that may entail, but know that with being a leader doesn’t just mean that you are a role model for others. Great leaders know how to be led and know how to listen and learn. Evolve daily.


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

LikeI’m not spiritual, I just practice being a good person.” on Facebook.

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