Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Who do you regard as a leader in your world? If I ask you to think of a leader you admire, perhaps you envision a respected political or public figure, an outstanding person in your community, a trusted and beloved family member, or an inspirational religious or spiritual teacher.
But what if the most potent leader in your world … is YOU?
In our modern society, we have been taught to value leadership in a number of ways: the title someone holds, the power they wield, the publicity they get, the money they make and/or the influence they have on our lives. The trouble is that all of these factors are based on what an individual is doing.
We have lost sight of the fact that there are many people of this world who are leaders because of who they are being. Their work may never reach the headline news or go viral on social media. They may never have their name written into school text books or have buildings dedicated in their honor … and yet these quiet leaders influence the people around them in positive, inspiring and valuable ways and lead their little corner of the world into the future.
Yoko Ono once said, “You change the world by being yourself,” A leader is simply someone who decides to follow their own path, and invites and inspires others to follow. True leadership has nothing to do with power or persuasion; it arises within us when we choose to be authentic, unique and courageous enough to step away from the crowd.
So, what future leader are you, that you haven’t yet acknowledged?
Despite what you may believe to be true, the creation of a greater future (and a better world) does not rely on a few public figures. Our future is being created right now, all over the world, by individuals like you. Therefore, to be a change agent, you simply need to acknowledge and release your ‘future leader.’ There are several steps you can take to do this:
Acknowledge your value:
If you live in modern society, it is probable that you have inherited a bad habit of making some individuals more important than you. You may view them this way because they have a fancy title or education, or more money, or (especially prevalent these days!) a large number of Twitter followers or YouTube subscribers. However, none of these things mean that someone is more valuable than you.
Sadly, this habit of making others more important also compels us to believe that they are somehow more capable than us. We look up to others to be our leaders – politicians, celebrities, public figures – instead of recognizing the personal power we wield.
Instead of making others more valuable, capable or accountable than yourself, tap into your inner leader by asking “What kind of world would I like to create?”
Allow yourself to be different:
We all have a strong desire to be accepted and belong. Too often, this need to be liked by others causes us try to be like others. However, as Yoko Ono implied in her quote, leadership (and life) is not about being the same as everyone else. In fact, being a leader is about being YOU, precisely so that you can see possibilities that others cannot.
Allow yourself to be different; to have a different perspective and see things that are invisible to others. Understand that, just because others don’t see a path or a possibility, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Often, it is an indication that you are aware of a future that doesn’t yet exist. You have a vision … but because that future has not actualized yet, others won’t, or can’t see it.
Be your own cheerleader:
When you create something new, others may not understand or appreciate what it is you are creating. Therefore, don’t rely on others’ encouragement and support. Ignore criticism or public doubt. Follow the possibilities you are aware of. Know that if you hold back simply because you don’t get the validation of others, then we all miss out on what you could have brought into this world.
Take a moment to ponder this: all of the things we take for granted now were, at some stage, nothing more than a crazy idea. The innovations, inventions and ideas we rely upon now were all dreamed up by someone who saw a future that didn’t yet exist … and acted on it.
Validation is not necessary for the leader of the future. You don’t need to know why, or how, or when something will work. You don’t need to have everything proven to you by others – or prove the validity of your vision to them. Simply trust what you know. Then …
Don’t wait. Create:
Abolish the need to wait: for someone else, or until conditions are perfect, or until you feel ‘qualified.’ The leader of the future is often not sure of what it is they’re creating. The point is simply to keep stepping forward.
Importantly, don’t worry about waiting for the world to catch up to you. When you’re tapped into the future, you will always feel one step ahead of the people around you. Often this sense of being ahead will feel ‘wrong’ or discomforting and this can cause you to want to look back; to allow others to catch up. But leadership is not about pulling people forward – it’s about creating a slipstream into a new future and inviting others to follow, using their own creative power.
By its very nature, the future is often indefinable – we don’t have the words (and therefore, the thoughts) to describe things that are yet to be invented and created. Because of this, don’t worry about living in the ‘indefinable’. In fact, if things are feeling a little ‘spaced out’ around you – if you feel like you can’t quite explain your current state of affairs – know that this is exactly where you are meant to be!
Susanna Mittermaier is a psychologist, psychotherapist and author of the #1 international bestselling book, “Pragmatic Psychology: Practical Tools for Being Crazy Happy.” She is a certified facilitator for Right Voice for You, a special program by Access Consciousness®. A highly sort after public speaker, Susanna has been featured in magazines such as TV soap, Women’s Weekly, Empowerment Channel Voice America, Om Times, Motherpedia, Newstalk New Zealand and Holistic Bliss. Susanna offers a new paradigm of therapy called Pragmatic Psychology and is known for her ability to transform people’s problems and difficulties into possibilities and powerful choices. Follow on Twitter @AccessSusanna.