We’re busy. Busier, probably, than any culture has ever been.
And leading is hard. It takes work, and it carries no guarantees that the work will bear fruit. It might lead to nothing more than unhappy followers.
No wonder most of us don’t want to do it.
Instead, we wait for the leader who thinks like we do, the leader we don’t mind following. We wait and watch our politics and schools and churches and celebrities, listening for anything that sounds like the leadership we want. And when our leader reveals himself or herself, we hang on every word. This is it, we tell ourselves and our friends. Finally, someone who thinks like I do. This is the one who will fix it all, who will make my life bearable again.
And we bend all our energies toward telling everybody about our leader and how they’ll fix everything.
Of course, little can come of this kind of following. Little but disappointment, as we learn that our leader isn’t the fixer we thought they were, as we learn our lives aren’t really any better than they were before. Disappointment turns to bitterness, then to cynicism as we fall back into our patterns of waiting for a leader and criticizing every one that arises. And in spite of our disappointment, we still hold out hope that a leader will come along and make our lives better.
We ignore the simple truth, a truth we all know deep down but don’t want to admit: no leader can fix our lives. That’s up to us.
And now we’re back where we started, facing a hard task we don’t want to do because we’re already busy, and we aren’t really sure what better looks like when it comes to something as big as our lives.
We could make the hard choice, take one step toward something we think might be better. We could take a walk, take a run, write a page, put some money away for that camera we’ve always wanted. We could call our friend who knows people and see if that job lead he told us about last week is still a going concern. We could put something up on eBay. We could swallow our pride, apologize to our spouse, and kiss him or her goodnight, or good morning, or both. We could have that hard conversation we’ve been avoiding.
There are hundreds of steps we could take to start making our lives better. Most of them are harder than waiting to be led. And almost all will have a greater impact on our lives than finding our leader would.
We don’t have to fix everything today. We just have to take one step. Tomorrow, we can take another. And we don’t have to wait.
Who’s with me?