Finding peace with being a follower, and knowing how and when to lead.
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend around the subject of being a follower versus being a leader. I instinctively felt the need to make the argument for myself that I was a former follower turned leader. I later realized, this was not true.
it's not that I was being dishonest, but I guess I hadn't really thought about where I aligned in terms of being a leader vs being a follower. So let me back up, I'm a black women. I am a black women who owns a business and has spent most of her adult life fighting for equality in the workplace, at home and in general as a human being. With that, there are a lot of reasons why I might have found myself taking an easier road than the less travelled when it comes to opportunities to lead.
That said, I think as we age, we change. Once we may have happily lurked in the background happy to have a role in being that "worker bee", a brilliant term my friend used and defined as someone who finds great purpose in being a follower. Someone who is completely capable of leading, but chooses sparingly when to take that path. Yet, still finds great happiness and peace in that decision not to lead.
In retrospect, I had to remind myself that I spent the majority of my life paralyzed or maybe hesitant is a better word. So I was just hesitant to lead...and in many cases it was because of race and gender. I had put myself in a box and hung back in the shadows waiting to be tasked or directed. But ultimately there was more to that and I was likely holding back because of my anxiety and perceived fear of rejection. Add to that my want and need for acceptance, so the easy road was just easier.
Anyways, I eventually hit a breaking point with all of that and got tired of following people who I realized were no better at being a leader than me. So, I stopped caring and just went for it. It hasn’t been perfect or easy, but I had to realize my value and the importance of me having a stronger voice. Kinda like you speaking up to your partners about the need for more representation of black doctors in the practice. I know you feel it wasn’t your strongest voice, but it was your voice and you spoke up.
Everyone has heard it being said that "It takes a great follower to be a leader". It is okay to be a follower and it is okay to lead. What I've learned is that although there is power in being a leader, there is more power in knowing your voice and knowing when it is okay to step forward and when to step back. Knowing that, which ever path we take we dont need to fear what we may miss out on, but look forward with what we are gaining. We are putting our happiness first and focusing on not just
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