The Courage to Go First

Do you remember playing a game called "Follow the Leader" when you were a kid? It was very popular when I was younger and it basically goes like this: Everyone lines up and then wherever the leader goes, you follow; and whatever the leader does, you do. Failure to comply with the leader and you're out of the game. Yes, this was a fun game, but to me it taught poor life lessons.

You see, following is fine when you are a kid and, in certain situations, even has its place in adulthood. When you're young and don't have much life experience, following the examples set by those who are older, wiser, and more experienced is a great way to learn without having to suffer many painful lessons (notice my caveat of following high quality role models). It is much better to learn from watching adults avoid fires than from getting burned.

Here's where the problems arise with being a follower: If we never outgrow the following mentality, the chances are very slim that we will ever realize our full potential or know true triumph. O, we may do well in school and make highly-valued employees, but the real joy of building our own happiness and being an influential leader will elude us.

You see, to be truly successful takes a commitment to developing the habit of being courageous. You must be willing to step out, take risks, and chart new territories that will carry you outside the established lines of behavior. You must be willing to ask "who says?"and "why not?" then ignore the standard answers, such as "that's what's expected from you" and "we've always done it this way". You must be willing to color outside the lines and create your own vision of how life should be.

Do you know why you hear so many stories about so-called underachievers like Bill Gates who became such huge successes? It wasn't that they were underachievers, it's because they were over-questioners. They stretched, or busted open, the boundaries of normalcy. They refused to play "Follow the Leader" in their lives. They had the courage to step out of line and say "follow me!"

It's not always an easy step to take. If you read The Book of Exodus, even Moses had doubts and even tried to convince God that he was the wrong man for the job; but, if he hadn't found the courage to step out of line and challenge the norm, where would we be?

Following may be comfortable, and it may even bring some measure of security, but it will never lead to true success, fulfillment, or an exceptional life. To achieve these things, you must have the courage to go first. As I tell audiences, make yourself the end style thing!

My challenge for you this week:

Turn on the courageous part of you.

  1. Use your power of imagination to visualize yourself in a totally courageous state of mind, feeling, and behavior.

  2. In this courageous state, make a list of current fears that you need to courageously defeat.

  3. Write down the things you would "go for" in this elevated state.

  4. For each item listed, write down your motivation for desiring it.

  5. Lastly, write down the continuous actions of courage that you will take to make your vision a way of life.

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