Leading Isn't a Big Deal

I love boating and the lake.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on the lake, on our boat, every single summer.


My dad is generous with his boat. We would often invite friends to join us. I recall sunny days on the lake where we taught numerous people how to waterski, and if that wasn’t quite your speed, we always had the tube. 


Ah, the tube. Are you familiar? It appears innocent enough…until attached to a boat, loaded with unsuspecting humans, and dragged at top speeds over and through huge waves with the intent to get some serious air and provide serious entertainment for those watching safely from the boat. In my opinion, it’s a modern-day torture device.


My dad, the captain of the boat, is an exceptionally good driver, on land and at sea. And yet, this incredibly nice human seems to get his kicks off of watching people, young and old scream at the top of their lungs, with faces contorted in all kind of expressions while they bounce and fly over said waves. He becomes somewhat demonic in those moments, all in the name of fun! 


Though in his 70’s, he’s still young at heart and we still take our boat out to the lake. Recently, and with my dad’s continued generosity, I invited my friend Hollee and her 3 teenage children – two boys and one girl – to the lake. Dahlia sat on one side, with one of her brothers in the middle and one on the other end of the tube. And we were off. 


Though we found out later that Dahlia was indeed enjoying herself, her facial expressions and screams were telling a different story! When viewing the waves from the boat, they seem big, but not daunting, yet when viewing from the tube, the waves seems larger than life! During their ride, amidst screams of horror, Dahlia’s legs were slipping off the tube which further induced the screaming. Her older brother Mickey, sitting next to her, reached over to grab her legs, ensuring her safety. It was a sweet moment between siblings that touched each of us watching from the boat. 


That moment made an impression on me. 


In that moment, Mickey was leading.


See, I believe that if you influence even one other person, you are a leader. 


You can bet Dahlia was influenced in that moment by her older brother. Whether or not he intended to lead, Mickey was leading, even on a fast paced, bumpy tube ride on the lake. 


How does this relate to real life? To work life? To rising in our careers?


Leading can often feel like a complicated thing. It can feel overwhelming. It may seem to be reserved for only the “elite” leaders. We all know great leaders, whether personally, current and well known or throughout history who led, and led very well. It’s easy to assume we don’t hold ranks with the greats. And yet, how do you think these great men and women became the great leaders that they are? They influenced. One at a time. 


What, then, keeps us, the everyday man and woman, from leading?


Is it fear? 

Imposter syndrome? 

Lack of confidence?


Each of these plays a part in the story we tell ourselves as to why we can’t lead. It’s often our perspective that makes leading a far grander thing than it really is. Perspective is what often paralyzes us, keeping us from stepping into our greatest potential as a leader. In those moments, remember this…leading isn’t a big deal. 


Please don’t misunderstand. 


To lead well is, in fact a big deal. Great leaders take their role and responsibility very seriously. Would we even have our great nation today if George Washington hadn’t led well? What would our country look like without Abraham Lincoln rising to the occasion? Leading well is so important.


When we accept that we can and do influence others, we can then choose how to lead and lead well. This may seem daunting, for great leaders are able to influence others to become better versions of themselves, to create change, to accomplish goals and tasks and to create movements. But aren’t we doing the same thing when we influence even one? 


How, then, can we step into our personal leadership to influence others and to lead well?

For any of us wishing to step into our leadership, we must start with our personal growth. For, if we can’t lead well in our personal lives, it will be a challenge for us to lead others.


Let’s go back to Dahlia and Mickey. Perhaps a far reach, but the tube is often like life. We are whipped around in an attempt to enjoy, but are often faced with huge obstacles that seem terrifying. We are often left feeling like we might fall and fail without someone’s help to keep us grounded and supported. In the moment he “saved” his sister from the terrors of a watery fall, , I am sure “leading” was the farthest thing from Mickey’s mind. And yet he influenced, therefore, he led. What caused him to make that choice? 


It was instinctual. 


Mickey is, at his core, very kind. From what I know of him, he’s led with thoughtfulness for others throughout his life. It is who he is. In this one aspect of his life, Mickey leads himself well, so is able to influence others to do the same.


Leadership is not so different from this simple example. When we make choices, every day, that help us to lead in our own lives – leading in our values, structure, routine, simple choices, etc., we then influence others to do the same. We are suddenly leading!


What I mean by “leading isn’t a big deal” is this. Leading isn’t nearly as complicated as we may make it out to be. It’s choosing in every moment how to lead. 

If we influence, we are leading.


When we speak, we are leading.


As we act, we are leading. 


Carefully choose your words and actions in every moment of your life. As you do so, you will lead in your personal life and you will lead as you influence those around you, one person at a time. 


Leading isn’t a big deal. It’s simply making small decisions every day to live a better life, personally, so we can lead and influence a better life for those around us. In the moments of choice, in the moments of leading, we lead big, or we lead small. It doesn’t matter the size of the leadership, what matters most is that we choose to lead. 


So today, right now, take a moment to consider your life. How are you leading well personally? Can you make some changes? How are you influencing those around you? Can you make some changes? I’d love to hear your goals!


Leyah ValgardsonComment