What a Leader Do

I’m the type of person who likes to “do.” I volunteer and get my hands dirty, and I speak up when I think there’s indecisive silence. I’ve had a penchant in the past for sharing lots of material with my peers, hopeful they would read the same things and arrive at similar conclusions.

I’ve become intentionally selfish for myself of late. I retired from all leadership positions – largely exhausted by the struggle of unnecessary ego, or the corruption in chasing dirty money. I’ve excused myself from friend groups, some because of the distance created by their life changes and the rest by the difficulty of scheduling quality time.

I used to think I was a leader, but don’t think much of the role anymore. I seek mentorship. I crave someone to listen and learn from. Someone not wrought with hubris or hungrily clinging to status. It matters little if it is someone older than me or a jury of my peers. I need to be able to spend time with this mentor to soak in what I yet need.

I hope to gain something from every relationship – something to motivate me, lessons on disciplining my mind, or perhaps a simple oasis away from realms of isolation. My goal is to always offer something similar in return, but I know that will not always be the case. I once read that society was built based on the obligation we feel to one another – systems of exchange – whether it be monetary or by favor. That we dislike owing our fellow a favor and seek to repay it. I have had the opportunity to be in groups where that was not the expectation. Where we volunteered our resources with no thought for anything in return. I am not opposed to offering my own but have yet to be able to receive from others what I truly need. My next level of growth is a focus on that – mentors offering to me what they are able, regardless of whether I ever “pay” them back.

Back to my thoughts on leadership, I no longer think I’m qualified to be one, despite my experience. I think I stepped forward in the past out of necessity. Being the eldest in my family forced me into caretaking and managing other’s lives. The team sports and school activities that engaged me most were the ones that placed me in leadership roles. I have been a goalie guiding the team with insight granted by a view of the whole field. I ’ve volunteered as team lead to craft training material and organize educational panels. I’ve served on executive boards (by vote or invitation) where I assisted other leaders in our shared duties.

I have in the past believed I knew what makes a good leader and that I had the ability to be one that does it well. I am not so sure now. I desire to grow the skills and knowledge to do what a leader does, while simultaneously recognizing that I need mentorship and continued education to maintain adaptability and remain in tune with those I might lead. I think I need to be selfish and create space for myself to accomplish personal growth. I need to say “No.” to being a leader, perhaps for a long time.

I have shifted the direction of my life to becoming more of a hermit, to learn more of myself and the worlds I inhabit, and to come out the other side confident in my abilities to get some shit done. I do not know if I am making the right decisions. I hope to know when I have learned enough when I finally “feel ready,” and then be brave enough to step forward again. If I do step forward, I hope that I will be the right person to carry the work forward.

 

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