There are many people out there who want to become leaders. They read every blog with the word in the title, the read every business book going, and they practice their techniques on the minions at work, hoping one day to be seen as one of that rarest of breeds.
Striving towards a worthy goal shouldn’t be criticised, but leadership really isn’t a destination – it is a journey, and actually being viewed as a leader is entirely dependant on the perspective of your peers. You might see your MD as a leader, but compared to Richard Branson, he is definitely still one of the minions. Becoming a leader for a group of people will then introduce you to an entirely different group for whom you will merely be an equal. The peaks to climb get higher and higher, but if you are purely motivated by reaching the next summit, you won’t enjoy the journey too much.
Life will pass you by very quickly if you keep reaching upward without looking around you. You climb higher and higher up the mountain, but you are so fixated on that peak in the distance that you don’t stop for a coffee and some biscuits to take in the view for an hour or so.
It is the experiences in life that make it worthwhile. However, if you are so focussed on “becoming this” or “achieving that”, you can ignore them completely in your single-minded obsession with making your dreams come true. So many people float in and out of your lives – you never know who might play a pivotal role in the future. If they are pushed to one side, you can be certain that their role will be minimal. Opportunities come up that seem to be interesting, but you decide that they are not contributing to the end goal. Sometimes the magic can be found in the tributaries of life – if you make no time to explore them, that magic will be left for someone else to discover.
Life is so much more enjoyable if you make the most of what it brings you on a daily and weekly basis, rather than striving to reach a sometimes unobtainable goal for years on end. The main thing is to keep moving as these experiences don’t appear by themselves. It doesn’t matter if you are moving forward, backwards or sideways – sometimes even the path back can look different (and more promising) the second time around.
So, by all means, strive to become a leader, but make sure you value the journey more than the destination. When and if you do have the privilege to “lead” others, your leadership will be all the richer for it because you have explored the landscape that your team inhabits.
I am a slightly sick of seeing all these “motivatory” mountain photos on people’s blogs. Give me a fascinating and varied journey any day…. get the map out.
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury