Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

Advice for those sitting on the sidelines 

How often do you find yourself judging the circumstances around you? Do you find yourself questioning the authority of your work environment, government, or random acquaintances’ life via social media? Do you find yourself curious about how others come to certain decisions in their life? Are you often angry about the choices other make? This, my friends, is a sign that you are sitting on the sidelines. 

It’s so easy to look at a solution or decision from the endpoint and judge it. When you have zero insight into the hard work and laboring hours that people involved went through to come to this solution. It’s frustrating. I have found myself doing this too. But lately, I’ve been taking a look at my place in the process. 

  • Was I involved in the decision-making?
  • Do I have any real background information as to why these decisions were made?
  • Does this decision really affect me so much that my anger is justified?
  • Am I willing to get on board with this decision?
  • Will I get involved to make a difference or support these actions?

I’m seeing a great divide among our nation and people in my own life about the covid vaccine. I’m watching from the sidelines as it tears us apart as a community and as family members. People standing firm in their beliefs on both sides of the spectrum and not willing to bend. I see regular folk who are now experts in science and healthcare. I see bullying and belittling, friendships being strained or ending. I’m amazed how easily this has wormed its way into being a huge political discussion. 

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

With so much controversy and passionate online debates, it reminds me of the quote “Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way.” Assuming (which I know is never wise) that you have educated yourself on a subject and are capable of having a discussion about it, this quote means that you are looking for others to lead you or to follow you. If they can’t do that, then you are requesting they step out of your path. 

For some reason, this is extremely hard for us to do in today’s online world. We use these social platforms to call each other names, to share links that prove that I’m right and your wrong. Very often in arguments with people we will never know or care to understand. 

I have found myself caught up in an online debate occasionally too. It doesn’t feel good, and no one walks away with a changed mind. 

So why do we do it?

Opinionated Spectator

My eyes were opened this week as a year and half long public art piece I’ve been involved with has finally made it through all the rigmarole and is set to be painted. This is a huge project and is somewhat controversial. A dedicated group of citizens dotted every I and crossed every T to get their project passed through the city. 

They showed up at: 

  • Multiple arts commission meetings 
  • Multiple city council meetings
  • Met with the city attorney and lawyers
  • Got public feedback and input
  • Kept coming back with work showing their dedication and willingness to be flexible

They took feedback and kept on pushing. As someone who’s been involved in the public art process for many years, I know this can be hard and seem never-ending. But big projects take time as all government work does. 

Finally, the hard work paid off and the city and group announced to the community that a Black Lives Matter Street Mural would be coming to our town. They put a call out for community members to sign up to get involved. And the team was feeling good about all their work. 

I made the mistake of reading the comments on the city Facebook page. My heart sunk. People were angry and being cruel. 

  • People who never came to council to express their concerns
  • People whose lives would not be affected by this mural
  • People who never educated themselves on the meaning behind the message
  • People who had no intention of getting involved
  • People who are sitting on the sidelines

When you decide to get angry and pull out your soapbox online for a discussion that you have not been a part of until after the decisions were made, you become nothing more than an opinionated spectator. 

Get Involved

It’s an easy habit to fall into. I scroll social media and sometimes feel triggered by what I consider to be an uneducated comment or quote. But here’s what I know…

When this happens and I get out of the way.

I am wise enough to know that my opinion isn’t going to alter theirs. I am not following their line of thought, and I am not led by hate. So I get out of the way. 

I place my attention on the leaders I choose to follow. The ones that resonate with my life work and mission and get involved in ways I can. 

I choose to not be a spectator, and I encourage you to do the same. 

No more sitting in judgment of decisions you know nothing about. No more anger put out towards the things you don’t like. 

It’s time to redirect your energy and attention to the things you’d like to see more of and follow those threads of action. It’s time for you to get out of the way of misunderstanding and lead yourself to a path that resonates with you. 

It will feel so much better when you are taking an active role in the decisions that matter to you. You are much smarter than being a couch critic. You are bigger than your emotional triggers. 

It’s a confusing time to be walking this earth. Focusing on the things that bring light into your life will help you discern who you want to follow, who you should lead, and when to get out of the way. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *