When I was a little guy……okay, when I was a preteen, all I wanted to do was be great. I wanted to be great and it didn’t matter at what, just to be great at whatever it was that I would do and once I died, I would be amongst the greats.
What did it really mean to me? When I thought more about it, greatness to me had more to do with leadership. I mean when you’re great at something, are you not at the top of your game and leading the field in whatever field it is that you’re in? So in essence, I wanted to be remembered as a leader of something.
But the one thing that I always disliked about the notion of leadership was having followers.
WHY ARE YOU GUYS FOLLOWING ME?!
It always bugged me, especially when you’re the big brother and you sorta set the example for your younger siblings to follow. I’m not a fan of copy-cats, people mimicking me, following trends or anything of the sort. I like to invent, innovate, inspire, stimulate and I’ve always respected people that do/did the same.
Most Leaders Begin as Followers
Don’t get me wrong, we’re all followers at some point. However, I wouldn’t aspire to ever remain a follower. In his classic Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill mentioned that most great leaders began in the capacity of intelligent followers. They became great leaders because they were intelligent followers
“I don’t believe in role models, but if I do then I’m mine” –Common
I remember hearing Common rap this lyric in one of his songs and it immediately made sense to me.
Why have role models?
To me, a role model is like your dream self and as with all dreams, there comes a point when you want to work to see them manifest. I never got the whole idea of a “man’s man.” I’d probably feel real paranoid having my lady around that guy, knowing deep down inside that he was somehow more of a man than I was. It says that you’re not who you want to be and you’re not being your best self. Sure, at one point it makes since, but for how long do you live that way?
Not to say I don’t come across people that I admire. Sure, I do. There’s a difference between looking up to someone and admiring someone. Looking up to someone implies that someone is above you, yet, you can simply admire someone and still see them as your equal.
I don’t aspire to look up to anyone, nor do I aspire to have people look up to me. Instead, after I come into contact people that I used to deem as role models, I’ll later think to myself in deep introspection
What aspect was it about that person’s character that really spoke to me?
Then the equally important question,
How can I incorporate that quality into my own character, and make it mine?
To acquire true self power you have to feel beneath no one, be immune to criticism and be fearless -Deepak Chopra
It makes perfect sense, right? In too many areas in life, I feel too many of us are waiting for heroes or “great ones” to come along. If there’s a big problem, it’s reserved for that great person to come and fix it. Great people have always been the ones that go out, shape history and create an event that people will talk about…and that’s it! That’s where it stops with some people. Some will drown in the shadow of a person’s greatness and fail to see their own.
This is my problem with greatness: while it would be nice to have groupies, fans, followers and what not, I feel it’s a score for the ego and a step down for humanity. A step down for humanity because others will put you on a pedestal and march around you. When it’s time to retire from all your greatness, hopefully you will have created someone to fill the position.
My other issue with greatness is it gets lonely at the top. You ever consistently beat someone at something and feel like such a bully, like it wasn’t even fun anymore? Then turn and let them win once just so there could be a shared moment between the two of you?
My point is this: inspiration is great and sometimes really helps, but most of the time, what we really need is a good look inside to get to know ourselves and remind ourselves of our own greatness. Inspiration is like an energy drink, knowledge of self is maintaining an energizing lifestyle. I want to show you who you are and what you in your own way might be capable of through being my best self.
So when thinking of your legacy are you going to leave this world with a wealth of great accomplishments and people to admire them or are you leaving the world with a wealth of people ready to accomplish great things?
Not saying one is better than the other, nor are they mutually exclusive. I am saying that we don’t have enough intelligent followers.
The fruit is to ripen, get picked from the tree, used up, then let its seed grow into a tree and begin another cycle, not to stay on the tree to rot.