As parents, it is so important to teach our kids to be leaders and not followers.
There are many reasons why we believe this. The biggest one being, we want them to think for themselves. Another is we don’t want them to be swayed by others to do things that they know is not in their best interest.
Leadership is such an important value to teach them for many other reasons. It teaches them to be confident. It allows them the space to make mistakes and take responsibility for them. It forces them to apologize to those they led who were impacted by this mistake. There are so many powerful lessons to be learned as a leader. Being a leader takes strength, character and courage.
So knowing the challenge and what is required of teens to lead, I think we can agree it is not something easily accomplished. Many teens do not feel comfortable in a leadership role because in order to be a good leader they need to step outside their comfort zone. Many of us as adults struggle with this, so just imagine the courage and strength a teen displays who is able to take on the challenge of leadership.
Are you with me so far? So here is the twist, this post is not about being a leader but about being a follower.
How do you think great leaders become great? They have great people following them who believe in the cause, believe in what they do and are strongly aligned with the vision they have.
The first follower in my opinion is more important than the leader. Anyone can choose to lead but without that first person to believe in you and jump all in, supporting your vision and all you do, you have no one to lead. This is how momentum is built. This is how a movement starts.
To this day my biggest breakthrough I had was during a personal development course I was attending. We did an exercise called “Lifeboat”. I don’t want to get into too much detail but the gist of it was no one survives and when you die you are to lay on the ground. Well here we were, 35 people lying on the ground in silence for 20 minutes and the facilitator just sat there watching us.
I got infuriated and stood up and said this is “BS”. She looked at me like I was nuts and then something amazing happened. The girl lying next to me stood up too. Then a third person, then a fourth. One by one everybody stood up and I just stood there stunned with tears pouring down my face.
This was some breakthrough and when we discussed it after and I was asked how it felt, my immediate response was “If she didn’t stand up next to me, I probably would have felt silly and just lied down again.” Imagine that. Imagine having a vision that is so powerful that you step outside your comfort zone to light the spark but nothing catches, so you just give up on it.
Captain Kirk needed Mr. Spock. Sherlock Holmes was nothing without Watson.
A strong follower opens the floodgates for others to follow. This is when transformation happens and movements begin. Just look at the #MeToo Movement! There are teens all over the country who at 18 are running for local political spots and are supported by friends and other like minded teens. Look at Parkland, Florida. These teens created the #NeverAgain Movement after a mass shooting at their High School.
As a parent we want to teach our kids to be leaders, but it is so important to teach them to be supportive too. Almost every great leader started out as a follower. We have to learn to lead and that is done through experience and by looking up to role models. First though, we must learn to be a follower and support others to lead.
Imagine the guts and courage it takes to start something. It is not easy to be the one who has to take the first step, but as soon as that next person joins them, both become empowered and the movement that can be created is unlimited!
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