As a kid, you could find me in the backyard slinging my baseball bat around trying to mimic Ken Griffey Jr's infamous, beautiful swing. Or I was trying to look like Chipper Jones fielding a slow roller to 3rd with my bare hands (he was the best at that). I even practiced standing on the mound in the World Series, preparing to pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning with the game on the line.
We usually associate these moments of 'when I grow up' with kids admiring athletes, pop stars or astronauts...but who are we kidding?
In the age of selfies and trends and all things social media, comparison is something just about everyone can say they've dealt with at some point. We watch the 'experts' and we try our hardest to mimic what they do and who they are and how they lead. We read all their books and quote their words in meetings and conversations.
But why have we allowed influencers to become idols?
And to set the record straight - I am guilty of this. I admire many men and women and their influence in my life and the lives of others - even those I've had no direct contact with. And as I've grown older, Theodore Roosevelt's legendary statement rings more true than ever:
"Comparison is the thief of joy."
But let's take a second to remember the struggles and insecurities and drama we deal with in our lives. Let's remember the burden of maintaining healthy relationships and making sure we check in with our mom a few times a week. Let's not forget about the laundry looming in the hamper and the honey-do list we've been putting off for weeks.
These are the common, ordinary struggles that everyone, even the people we admire, have to deal with. So how do we keep those leaders and ball players and musicians we try to emulate from keeping the good things about who we are are and what we know and how we lead from taking the lead in our own story? It's pretty simple, actually: we remember they are people.
Here are some things to think about:
1) They have a calendar full of stuff that isn't their work.
Their calendar is full of stuff outside of 9am to 5pm that includes yard work and trash duty and chores and meetings and doctor appointments and family and friendships and rest and responsibility that doesn't include what they get paid to do every day. The 24 hours you have every day is the same 24 hours they get. They are not above having to do the things that require time with their loved ones and making sure the world around them doesn't fall apart. And if they think they're above that, I'd be careful keeping them on the admiration list.
2) They change their minds.
I have a love/hate relationship with the fact that Twitter allows you to download your entire archive of tweets. I love it because I can laugh at the dumb things I said 8 years ago and I hate it because I can also cry at the dumb things I said 8 years ago (I was 20 when I started tweeting). My thoughts on the world and people and theology and leadership have greatly evolved over the years. I've learned and grown and finally understood new and beautiful and different things. And what's awesome is so have the leaders you admire. They see things differently and they change and they grow. And that's ok. So if they say something that challenges you or makes you think or makes you question what you know about something, roll with it. Ask new questions and allow yourself to change and learn and grow too.
3) Your world doesn't revolve around them.
Or it shouldn't, at least. The things you know or believe or understand or have experienced are more valuable to the way you lead than what other people have done. The leaders you read or listen to or watch or emulate have so many different experiences and issues and struggles and victories and lives than you. What you know and who you are matters. Yes, learn from other leaders. Yes, understand the context of their situations. But NO, don't allow their stories and lessons and values take over who you are and what you have to offer.
Don't get me wrong - having a list of mentors or people you learn from is not just valuable, it is necessary! But don't let those leaders or their lessons overtake the way you lead your family, your organization, your team, or yourself.
So - what are some of the things YOU have learned that have shaped how you lead? And who are some leaders that have helped you in your journey? Comment below so we can learn from you!