“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer
How can I follow someone who hasn’t fallen?
That is my quote for the day. No really, it is. The fact is, I find it nearly impossible to follow the lead of someone who hasn’t fallen at some point in their lives. I don’t mean fall from a step or roof. I mean I can’t follow someone who hasn’t faced tragedy in their lives and is transparent to them. If you profess to be a leader, you must to be open to me of how you have fallen and got back up; otherwise, I cannot validate the sincerity of your message.
In an age where anybody can just jump on social media and claim to be a leader or life coach, there has to be a differentiation between the phonies and the legitimates. To me, it has to be the story. What is your story? I don’t even have to necessarily be in alignment with your message, but just the fact that you have picked yourself up from the bottom gives you legitimacy and respect. I dig that. If you haven’t hit some kind of rock bottom in your life then you have never lived. How can you tell me how to live?
I had to dig deep to reach this conclusion as I felt a sense of elitism with my thought. Then I reminded myself of how children follow their parents. Children are an excellent gauge on how we should live as they haven’t been tainted by age and responsibilities. I wondered how a child can follow the lead of their parents without reserve. Their parents are the omnipotent beings in their small lives; the most important human figures to their survival. Children believe every word their parents say and take their words at full value. But how can they possibly follow their parents without ever knowing of their trials? Perhaps I am way off with my assumption, there are holes in my theory. But is there?
Children are terrific observers of human behaviour. Because they are so hyper-focused on their parents every move, mood and gesture; they witness rock bottom just about every other day. They see the ultimate lows that parenthood and adult life can bring and they also witness the incredible highs. It is this drastic shift in emotional exposure that brings incredible “street cred” to their parents’ leadership. Children follow the parent who is the most transparent about their lives and their emotions. Children follow authentic leadership.
I have been to a rock bottom in my life and I have fallen many times. I have grown a vast appreciation to those who have as well. If someone is not afraid to share their deepest experiences then I am not afraid to be completely receptive to their message. Even if the conversation has nothing to do with their trials, I often follow along without reserve. There is a certain level of trust that is built up with someone who is willing to peel the onion and expose their eye stinging truth. It’s what makes us human, it’s what makes us real. So I ask, how can I follow you if you haven’t fallen?