A beautiful friend sent this vignette to me a few weeks ago it was sent out at her place of work. I really appreciated the message.
“Years ago, a governor was running hard for a second term in office. One
day, after a busy morning chasing votes he arrived at a church barbecue. It
was late afternoon and the governor was famished. As he moved down the
serving line, the woman serving chicken put a piece on his plate as he filed
by. “Excuse me,” the governor said, “do you mind if I have another piece?”
“Sorry,” the woman said. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each
“But I’m starved,” he said.
“Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one per customer.”
“Do you know who I am?” he queried. “I’m the governor of this state.”
“Do you know who I am?” the woman shot back. “I’m the lady in charge of the
chicken. Move along, mister.”
We all know what it’s like to be under someone else’s authority: when we
admire the person, life is great; when we don’t, life is less than great.
More important is how you choose to respond. Do you tend to become bitter
and backbiting or do you decide to become a better person? To become a good
leader we often need to first become a good follower.
One Mind, One Heart, One Purpose!”
I loved the message because in many ways this vignette reflects my journey. I recently met with a member of our staff to do their annual review. They worked for me in the past, I say “for me” because back then it is how I viewed things. Now I would say I work with them and that is truly how I have evolved to understand my role. So this amazing person told me in all honesty you are a much better boss now than you were when we worked together in the past. I asked why they thought that, they said trust, they said I trust people to do their job and that makes work fun and rewarding.
Of course vanity kicked in a little and I was patting myself on the back for getting a compliment. After I got over myself I thought about what they said and how I came to this place in my life. I wish I could say it was purely through self driven insightful enlightenment, no I came to this place through pure necessity. And I thank God every day that I was thrown into turmoil in my life because it forced me to surrender, trust and allow.
When I was asked a year ago if to describe the analogy of my role in life as part of a symphony what instrument or seat would I be in. I said I started out hungry but was in the third seat I wanted desperately to be in the first seat and then the conductor. I made it to conductor for a while but I was impatient and did not appreciate it. Today I find myself in the audience at first I would say I ended up in the audience because I was hiding out, I was tired of being “in charge” and that is because I was a leader without trust. Now I lead with trust, and I still believe I am in the audience but for a very different reason. I know how to play some of the instruments and I don’t mind at all filling in any seat when needed but it’s time for others to make beautiful music and for them to conduct the others and for me to quietly inspire from the seats and enjoy the beautiful music.
The musicians do not play the music just as I did, nor should they, music is very personal and your own experience and your individual passion comes through when you play. It’s like a snow flake no two kinds or styles are alike. At first that was unsettling allowing others to make music their way, now I enjoy seeing the different styles and sounds. What a fabulous learning experience for me.
So I can relate to the story describing that to become a good leader you have to become a good follower. When we are only in the lead you only get to see things from your own perspective, and sometimes that may be valuable but not always. It is equally valuable to follow so you get to see things from other’s perspective.
For many years I complained about needing to have balance in my life. Oh if everyone would just do what I say or what I do, my life could be more in balance. If only I had someone to really count on to do this as well as I can, then I could have balance. Blah, blah, blah, blah…….it seems so weird to even admit I thought that way, but I did. Hey I used to perm my hair too and I can’t imagine that now either. I finally realized to have balance in your life it means create balance everywhere. Even in my thinking in order to manifest a more balanced life I really to try balance my view in most areas of my life. I love inspiring others and I love being inspired. I love talking and I love listening. I love reading and I love writing. I love giving and I love receiving. For many years I loved being the leader but now I love following and inspiring others to blossom into their leadership.
I saw this quote and while I am not there yet it truly inspired me to view my leadership role in a new light. To all the great leaders who step lightly on this earth so that others may follow and yet forge their own path.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu