My grandfather used to have an expression for not being in a hurry: "there's no place to go." This is fine in that circumstance, but when it comes to being a leader, if you have no destination in mind it shows in the results.
Friday night my husband and I watched the 1983 movie Rumble Fish. Based on the book by S.E. Hinton, when Motorcycle Boy returns to New York after a long absence, he offers his brother Rusty James all the wisdom he's gleaned, including this gem:
Rusty James looks up to his brother and, I think, is puzzled by this statement. Motorcycle Boy seems a born leader but he doesn't seek leadership, recognizing that he has little to offer. His ability to show "courage" in a fight is no more than a response to feeling scared spitless and his "charisma" is based on a sense of mystery about him. He doesn't speak or think like the rest of the crowd.
If we want to be leaders, we should ask ourselves why. Do we have something valuable to offer or is our desire more about selfish ambition and ego gratification? If others are following us, are they wise to do so? Are we leading them down a garden path to destruction or up a mountainside to glory?
When we follow others, we should do so wisely. Are they taking us into a fight where we may get killed? If so, is it a cause worth dying for? Is the end goal worthwhile? Will we change the world, or be changed, in a positive way? Rusty James identifies Motorcycle Boy as a modern-day Pied Piper. Who remembers whether or not that story has a happy ending?
We are all either leaders or followers. Wherever you land, make sure you're heading in a good direction.