Follow First, Lead Second
This year was my 5th year judging at the Games, and it gets better every year.
Some people may think that the reason I do it is because of the spectacle of the events and the incredible athletes that are there.
Admittedly it is an awesome thing to see and be a part of.
I would be lying if I told you that being front row for physical efforts like those of Josh Bridges on the final event aren’t things that give me goose bumps.
But that isn’t the real reason I go there.
The real reason I go there is because of things that nobody else will ever see unless they choose to be a small cog in that giant wheel.
Behind the scenes there is a near unimaginable amount of work and effort that goes into highlighting the Fittest on Earth.
It’s an environment where great leaders thrive. Where the pressure is at it highest, timelines are at there tightest, and stress is at it’s peak.
I learn something every year when I’m there. And I learn it by following.
Here at home I’m the boss, I call the shots. I make the decisions, good or bad, right or wrong and I have to live with them.
There are three reasons I chose to pursue working on seminar staff and work at the games:
1) professional development
2) to be accountable to someone else
3) to learn to be a better follower
The best leaders I have ever worked for were great followers first.
They did the tough jobs that nobody else would do. They took the beatings and the ass chewings. They executed the “good ideas” regardless of how dumb they may have seemed as they came down the pipe.
Those are important lessons to have learned through doing.
It’s important for me to understand how my decisions effect those that have chosen to follow me.
So I show up to seminars every weekend and the games every year and I FOLLOW.
If I can’t follow and learn to be a good teammate, I can never expect to be a great leader. I can’t expect to be a leader that other’s want to follow.
I do that because it’s important to do what we ask of others.
Sometimes that means keeping our mouth shut.
Sometimes that means just doing what is asked of us without questioning it.
Sometimes that means not complaining because we don’t understand the bigger picture.
If we want to be successful in training we have to trust the process and do what the program says, without adding what else we think is good.
If we want to be successful in our nutrition we have to do the work and know that the results are not immediate and that there are many layers to that journey.
We have to continue to follow when things go wrong. We have to understand that jumping ship at the first sign of hardship isn’t what good followers or leaders do.
If we want to be good leaders we have to be better followers.
We have to be so great at following that others follow our lead.
And we have to continue to learn to follow because that is how we develop the empathy for those that choose to follow us.
So we have to continue to questions ourselves:
Do I know how to follow?
Do I know how to lead?
If we answer those questions truthfully we will find out the the best leaders know how to follow.
And in order to lead, we must follow first.
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