The Path You Take

Share your story. A prompt that suggests so much. It suggests that we have a story worth sharing, but equally so, it suggests that there is an audience interested in our story. We all have a story to share. So much so that it is an accepted cliché when seeing untoward behaviour from some, or a lack of ambition from others. We remind ourselves and others that we don’t know their story and therefore should not judge them harshly. That has its merits to a point.

Something not so often contemplated though is the story versus the storyteller. I’ve witnessed many times how a great story is dismissed simply for being told by the wrong storyteller. Not because they did a bad job of telling it, but because the audience saw that person as someone other than a source of credibility, wonderment, or inspiration.

The stories of our lives consists of the people and characters that we most often know first hand. Be that online or in real time, our first hand interactions with them shapes their perceptions of who we are and what they believe we are capable of. It is that perception that defines how our story will be received or how our advice may be taken. Good advice is always good advice. It only becomes tainted in our minds because we contaminate it with our perception of the advisor.

True emotional maturity and a healthy self esteem is defined by our ability to accept the truth, or criticism, regardless of its source. That probably speaks as much about the conviction we hold for objective truth (if such exists in normal human interactions) versus our subjective truth regardless of the facts that may challenge our views. But all this is beside the real point, and instead simply alludes to a much more important point that escapes most of us.

When we choose to change the definition of who we are, or how we are preceived (which is a natural consequence of the former), we forget that others are not as invested in the change that we wish for ourselves. For most, it is more convenient for them to maintain their firmly held beliefs about who we are or what we represent, because it gives them predictability and assurance about their views on life and others. They need that predictability or stability especially when their self image is based on how they compare to others. I think this is an important point.

When we realise how much the way we are strengthens the self esteem of others, we’ll realise why it is that the support that we expect is not forthcoming when needed. Their self esteem could be bolstered by believing that they’re better than we are, or by their association with us if we have admirable qualities that they want to be associated with. It is easy at this point to assume that they do not want us to be successful or ambitious, but the truth lies closer to the fact that they are not ready to reevaluate who they are relative to their changing reality.

When we assume that it is about us, rather than recognising that they suffer from their own feelings of insufficiency, we feel deprived or betrayed by their lack of support. Right there is the struggle of leadership. True leadership, not pseudo leadership associated with an office or title. Leading in your chosen field of passion or influence. Following a calling that demands more than just fitting in or complying with the norm. When you choose that path, one of your closest companions will likely be isolation.

Isolation is an inevitable outcome of influencing change. By definition, change means to be set apart from the norm. You cannot lead from within the masses, or by subtly hinting at improvement while maintaining the status quo to avoid disruption. Unless of course minor incremental changes define the limits of the leadership that you wish to provide, or the change you wish to see realised.

I guess it is therefore more accurate to state that disruptive leadership is a courtship of isolation. Only once the value of your vision is experienced by the rest can you hope to feel any sense of inclusion. However, by that time the harm or discomfort of isolation by those you expected to be your staunch supporters often results in so much damage to the fabric of your relationship with them that their inclusion or support no longer holds any merit. Ironically it becomes a reversal of the point of departure. You risk becoming the one not willing to reevaluate your perception of others because of a moment in the past, rather than accepting that they needed tangible evidence to overcome their cynicism or doubt about what you were striving to achieve and the value that it offered them.

Either way, when you choose your path in life, inclusion will leave you constrained and unfulfilled, while conviction will risk disruption that will set you on a collision course with the people that you hope to keep close through the journey ahead. If you have such people in your life, the ones that grow with you on your journey, cherish them. However, on this point I believe that not a lot of cherishing will be done, because not many earn such respect or gratitude through support and encouragement.

Perhaps it is just my jaundiced view based on a jaundiced relationship with a jaundiced society.

Share your thoughts on this…

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: