Follow a Leader
Oh, you don’t want to be a follower yourself? You’d rather be a leader? I get it. But you need to follow a leader first before you can become a leader yourself.
I’m a pretty good skier. I’d like to be better. There are lots of better skiers out there.
I’m using skiing as an example here because it was so clear to me today. But you can pretty much replace skiing with anything you’re interesting in mastering: making money, building a business, learning a skill, health, weight loss, etc.
The above sentence could be one of those tests to find the “rational path to the solution” like “If A is more than B and B is more than C, we can deduce that C is more than A.”
“Wait, what?” I hear you say.
This is part of a series of articles on “Beyond Greatness” I’m compiling to get from A to Z and then from Z back to A and then scrap the whole alphabet scale because you’re beyond it. Stay tuned.
Let’s take those tiny sentences separately.
1. I’m a pretty good skier.
I’ve been working at it for several years now. I ski as much as I can and I’m getting better. I practice, I try, I do my best. My 12-year old is better than I am, but he has no fear (or experience) with broken bones. Also, this is slightly another angle, but I think he truly has talent.
2. I’d like to be better.
I have a desire to be better. This is important. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t get better–or at least not quickly. I’m not fully passionate about it, I don’t read ski magazines or watch YouTube videos of ski techniques.
3. There are lots of better skiers out there.
I fully admit that I’m not the best. In fact, it’s important to note that I’m mature enough to realize where I stand. This doesn’t mean that I can’t be the best, it’s just confirmation of where I am now.
But between the lines, I realize that I can learn from them. They know more than I do. Do they have techniques that I don’t know? Absolutely. Do they have more practice? Probably. Can I learn from what they know? I better say yes, otherwise I’m not going to get better.
I need to have the knowledge before I can apply it. I can read books on the subject (books that other people better than me wrote) or I can take classes or workshops. But I need to understand what they know and then apply it to my own level, experience and situation.
Admittedly, I can improve my skiing without others. But it will be a slower process and I might learn habits that will hurt me later on.
Here’s my skiing experience from today and you can take this and apply it to whatever you’re looking to improve on.
I followed a better skier today for most of the mountain. I didn’t look at my own feet or skis or even the ground below me. I looked only at him. I did exactly what he did (to the best of my ability).
He explained what he was doing and why as we went along and stopped to discuss it. I learned what to do and why I should be doing it. At first, it seemed awkward … because it wasn’t how I was used to doing it. Did he do it the right way and I was doing it the wrong way? I don’t know. Probably.
Bonus: I did best when:
- I admitted that I was pretty good.
- I listened to what he had to say.
- I did what he said to do.
- I followed in his exact footsteps (or ski tracks!).
- I stopped thinking about steps 1 through 4.
That last step is when I was at my best. I was most comfortable because I had gathered the knowledge that I needed it, I studied it, I put it to use and then I stopped focusing on it intellectually and let my body do what it needed to do.
Let that last bit sink in and you’ll realize that it’s both the hardest step (when you don’t know what I’m talking about) and the easiest step (when you’ve done steps 1 through 4 and know exactly what I’m talking about from experience).
Are we having fun yet? Oh, that’s step 6. 😉