I have always thought of myself as a leader. Probably because our parents often said the choice was to lead or to follow. While I've done my fair share of following my friends, I often said no to many things my friends were doing because, yes mom, I am a leader.
I say I am a willing leader because I am. I am willing to do the service that is required when being a leader. I am willing to "eat last" as Simon Sinek would say. I am willing to lead even when the path is dark and I feel incapable. Because that is what it's about right? Being brave even when I feel fear? That is why I loved Maddie's post, because even though she is talking about being a mother, she is talking about a feeling ALL humans have, fear.
When I started co-facilitating Urban Empowerment, a 200 hour teacher training at Urban Body Yoga this past January, I was met head on with a rush of no way, you aren't capable of leading 28 other people, no way you know anything about anything, you might as well read them a book and then hide in a corner, you are a fraud. Really. Those thoughts really happened. But alas, my name was on the website, I was committed and this baby, so to speak, needed it's leader.
As a leader I lead willingly, I willingly listened to the feedback of my co-leaders and community, I willingly prepared more and willingly I tried again. Somewhere in the willingness to be brave, I discovered something; I am capable!
In all the definitions of facilitator/leader/teacher/mother I've seen, none of them say "must know everything." The power of I DON'T KNOW has been amazing. While I am guiding a group, if something comes up and I feel inadequate to answer, I can say, I don't know, let me do some digging and get back to you with an answer. Of course there is a fine line between needing to know and being free to say I don't know. I need to know my material, I am claiming to be able to lead them through and I don't have to know EVERYTHING. Do you see the distinction? It's important.
Here is the other important distinction, no where in the definition of leader is there the word perfect. I once told my mom I didn't understand how people could be mad at a pastor for cheating on his wife. He was human after all, weren't Christians supposed to be forgiving? She made her response clear, yes, leaders are humans, they do make mistakes and they deserve to be forgiven. They are also choosing to be leaders, choosing to take the high road, choosing to set an example. So yes, their actions have bigger consequences because they took on a bigger role.
As a willing leader, I am willing to be human, I am willing to make mistakes. That is different than letting myself off the hook. I say I am willing to lead because I am willing to be imperfect AND to be an example. I am willing to make mistakes AND to always consider how my actions effect others. I am willing to be criticized. I am willing to have thick skin because as a leader, my imperfections are often the most judged parts of me.
Being willing to lead also means I am willing to follow. I imagine life like one, never ending, assembly line. When I receive my parts to assemble, I do my work, when I am done, I pass it to the next person and wait for my hands to be filled again. I am before the people in the line behind me and I am behind the people in the line before me. Just like leading. I have a place and I have a task. When I give what I have, naturally I am open to take what I need.
As a leader I am willing to stay in the work, to keep replenishing my stock, to do and be what I am asking my students to do and be.
I won't say leadership is hard, I am removing 'hard' from my vocabulary. I will say leadership is a choice. It takes willingness and work. It takes time and effort. It might come naturally and it might not. It is not perfection or omnipresence. It's a blessing and it's what I pick over and over even though it can be uncomfortable. I am willing to lead and that means I am willing to serve.