It depends. I can be both, a leader and a follower, and the truth is that nobody is only one or the other all the time. If you are honest to and about yourself you will know your strengths and weaknesses. You will act as a leader when your strengths are needed. Additionally, you will act as a follower when someone else’s strengths are best fitting for the specific situation.
Trying to be a leader in a situation that is new to you, or without having the necessary experience in a specific field, is irresponsible. You are not only taking your own but the fate of others into your own inexperienced hands.
Whenever you are uncertain if a situation is appropriate for you to step up as a leader, take a step back. You can watch and analyse the person who took up the the position. If they are doing a great job, you will have taken the right decision. If they start making mistakes and be criticised, you can step up and take their place as a leader. This can have two outcomes. Either you are worse than the previous leader, then you will have an even worse reputation than him. Contrarily, you could do a better job than him, which has a high probability if your predecessor was really bad, and your reputation will be even better than it would have been without a bad predecessor.
In conclusion, an appropriate knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses is important in your decision to be leader or a follower. Being a leader or a follower is not a permanent state. In a hierarchical structure you will probably simultaneously be a leader to some and a follower to others. Choosing the right role to play in a specific situation is evidence of deep self-knowledge and self-awareness.
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
Our parents are the first people we interact with in life. They influenced our conscious and unconscious mind, knowingly or unknowingly.
The apple does not fall far from the tree.
As we grow older we tend to think that we are living our independent lives without any outer influence on our personality, character, habits and way of thinking. This is far from the truth. Of course we are making our own decisions and our lives look different than those of our parents, but our decisions and the course of our life has been strongly shaped by imitating the actions and habits of our parents. The possibility that overweight parents will have overweight children is high. The possibility that parents who smoke or drink will have children who smoke or drink is high. This is why it is important to learn from the mistakes of our parents and try to be different in the bad and similar in the good.
I was walking some days ago and thought about my personal fitness. I haven’t really been active in the last couple of years. Luckily, I have been working out with my father from a very young age and my overall fitness looks good, even when I am not doing much physical training. I am 27 years old and when my father was 27 years old he had been in much better shape than I am currently in. My father worked out everyday. He was known for his strength and physical endurance. Later in life, after he married my mother and created four children, he let himself go. He got overweight and did not workout for many years. He was not the man he used to be. He started having physical issues because of his lack of movement. I am standing here now, at 27 years old, lazier and weaker than my father at 27. If gaining weight and becoming lazy could happen to my father, then worse things can happen to me if I do not take care of my physical health and strength. That is why I have to learn from my father’s mistake. Try to find at least half an hour everyday for the minimum amount of moving my body, even if it means taking a walk.
This, of course, is only one of many examples in which parents can be fallible. Looking at the mistakes of our parents is beneficial because we witness the consequences of their actions first-hand. Later in life we will meet other people and observe their mistakes and the consequences that will arise, but it may be too late for us to gain wisdom because we may have already been through the same problems. The problems our parents face are mostly problems that arise when people have become comfortable with their lives and they let themselves go. The notion that they have achieved whatever there was to achieve, especially after creating a family… a notion which they regret eventually.
What needs to be considered is that oftentimes, finding out the mistake can be very difficult. We see the negative consequences but where did they come from? Analyzing the negative consequences and following them back to their causes is laborious, but once achieved, it will open up a path for destroying generational trauma. Mistakes that are repeated from generation to generation. Those mistakes are obstacles to the success of many people who fall victims to the bad habits and mistakes of their parents.
Parents are our first role models. We need to learn from their mistakes in order to become better versions from generation to generation. When we have our own family, we should talk to our children about our own bad habits and mistakes. Teach them to be better and not repeat them. They will be thankful.
This quote is from a book written by Nick Hornby and called “About a Boy”. The main character, Will, started dating a woman that was older than him. She had a daughter and always complained about her ex husband and father of the girl, Simon. This is how this quote came to life, which is one of the best I have ever heard, because it tells a lot about our identity as human beings and how we are perceived by others.
Questions that arise
Are our identity and personality perceived by others as they really are, or just in comparison to the identities and personalities of other people?
Does any other person, apart from ourselves, judge us based on the true qualities of our personality and expertise?
Those questions are difficult to answer.
The true value of our qualities
Let’s say I am hired as a manager in a company and I assume that this company had a manager, I will call him Greg, who had to leave his position for some kind of reason. I have my qualities which are set and cannot be changed. Now what is important, is the perceptions that the other employees and stakeholders had on the work of Greg. These perceptions will determine how I will be going to be perceived and the amount of my success as a manager. If Greg had good qualities and the rest of the company was happy with him then I would have to do a very good job to at least be perceived as acceptable for the position. In contrast, if Greg had been a bad manager and nobody had been happy with him then even a mediocre job by me as a manager could be able to be perceived as above average. Nevertheless, our qualities, in their essence, are the same in both cases. Their true value, though, is determined by how others perceive our qualities based on the previous experiences they made.
This also applies to romantic and sexual relationships. We are often only the products of the predecessor’s work in the role we are currently playing. The expectations our partner has, will be influenced by the experiences made with his or her previous partners. Knowingly or unknowingly. We could be the most loving and affectionate girlfriend or boyfriend, it won’t mean much if our partner cannot value and appreciate (or does not need) those qualities. We will not be a good partner. BUT: With the same qualities we could be the best possible partner for another person. This person’s previous experiences have shaped them into fitting (partly or perfeclty) into our quality-frame.
The woman Will was dating in the novel, only appreciated Will because he was not Simon. She may have not even noticed it herself. Will definitely did not notice it, otherwise he would not have been surprised when she left him to get back to her ex husband, Simon. Will could have interpreted this event in two ways.
He can blame himself for the breakup. He can take it personally, making him think that he is not good enough to please a woman emotionally or sexually.
OR, and that would be the reasonable thing to do, he can analyze the event and understand that the woman he was dating was a product of her past experiences and that her actions did not have anything to do with him. She would have done the same to any other man in this specific time. She was just trying to distract herself from the ex husband that probably disappointed her in some kind of way. Was what she did ok? No. But take it personally? HELL NO.
Nobody can see us as we truly are
Nobody can see us as we truly are. I thought it necessary to repeat that. That is why we should never take it personally if someone misunderstands us. Getting rejected hurts, being misunderstood hurts. Many times people, even those closest to us, claim to know us. They will falsely apply characteristics on us. In many cases they are only mirroring their own personal characteristics because they want to feel better about themselves. “I am not the only one with this specific flaw“, they are thinking. This is why we should never take other people’s perceptions and actions personally. Those perceptions and actions are not the result of our actions or content of our character and personality, but the result of previous experiences made by the individual characters in this specific event. This is also why even good gestures should not be taken too personally. Being thankful and being disappointed to a degree are necessary and natural reactions to gestures made by other people. But we should never exaggerate the influence those gestures have on our mental state by taking them too personally.
Furthermore, in our lives we have more than one identity. We are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, managers, waitresses, nurses, doctors, genitors. The interactions we have during all those identities are not the same. As a brother, I could be perceived as caring and patient but as a doctor as strict and cruel. Even as a brother, I am perceived differently by the one sibling than by the other. They are both making different experiences with different people and this shapes their individual lens with which they perceive and judge people. Different standards will have different outcomes.
Not taking things too personally is not easy. When someone does something positive to us we feel loved and appreciated. If we exaggerate those feelings we might get disappointed by this person in the future. The same is true if someone does something negative to us and we feel disappointed, sad and hurt. If we exaggerate those feelings we may act in a specific way that will result into not being able to ask this person for help, if we need it someday. We will regret our behavior in both instances.
Understanding that the actions and words of other people are not the products of the content of our character or personality but the products of their personal previous experiences with other people, will make us the pilots of our feelings. Only we know who we truly are. We may not be Simon, and we may be loved more for not being Simon than for being ourselves. That is ok, as long as we know ourselves and are satisfied with the way we are and act.