Following and leading

Sometimes in life we feel capable of leading others into the joy of things we know. A love of a particular sport, the absolutely splendid worlds ready to discover within beautiful books, the amazing freedom of letting loose into a dance mid-vacuum. Working hard at work with the right people, encouraging friends to give a movie that doesn’t seem like their cup of tea a go, offering our time when we know someone needs listening ears.

Other times we don’t know how to get started, or we think we don’t have what it takes to do something. This can be anything as seemingly trivial as deciding what to have for dinner, all the way up to being a part of necessary systemic change within our world. Being a driver for humans to change harmful attitudes and choose to show kindness towards one another.

In my current job I am responsible for following; instructions already in place to carry out my role, new processes we come up with to improve efficiency, responding to requests from managers and those we serve and support, learning from all my work colleagues within and outside of our team. I am also responsible for leading; guiding those learning processes from me, refining the new processes we create by responding to how well they work, confidently speaking up when something needs to change, even if it’s easy to say ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’.

More days than I don’t I fall into the trap of I wanting to follow the easy path, to do the things I already know how to. This is an invitation to stagnation and the possibility of perpetuating mistakes and imperfect processes already in place. It is difficult to be aware of improvements at all times, let alone identify the best ones, and put them into practice. Thankfully my mind wants to improve and encourage others to do the same. This positive approach which has become my default state of mind helps me more days than it doesn’t. Coupled with a healthy pragmatism I can acknowledge days when just doing my job is the best choice, when I and those around me are better served by me being a follower.

When playing ultimate I find it easier to fall into a leading role. I have played for almost fifteen years at many different levels against and with players of all experience levels. With the knowledge I have gained I feel there is something I can calmly offer to any situation if it is appropriate for me to speak. More recently I have started to remember I must also always be ready to learn from people of all different experience. New players bring new ideas and enthusiasm. Longer serving players will have tried more things and have potential insight into when and how different strategies and conversations may play out. All healthy interactions in the ultimate field are opportunities to teach and learn, and I always try to remember this.

I am not infallible. Sometimes I forget to listen. Sometimes I try to lead when it is more appropriate to follow. Sometimes I fade into the background when people need someone with my knowledge and skills to lead. I’m still learning, and hope I always will be. Remembering to keep an open mind will help me to be present.

With the right application and effort we have the capacity to effectively follow and lead. Different situations will call for different skillsets, so we must recognise what we are best suited for in any given moment. By working as a team we can succeed at work, playing sport, performing art, recovering and relaxing effectively, writing books, creating music; and any number of other amazing things.

Dream big, embrace peace, love always, dear readers.

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