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Leading ... and following

September 21, 2007 - Rob Weaver
“Lead, follow or get out of the way.” That was the gist of a speech by former Gov. Jim Rhodes to a roomful of Boy Scouts about 20 years ago. The statement was powerfully succinct. It also was overly simplistic. The moment I heard it, I immediately pictured of a group of lemmings, running headlong toward a cliff. Would you consider the lemming at the front to be a leader? If so, would you want to be a follower? Wouldn't an individual who gets in the way of lemming-like behavior be a true leader? Two types of people bring this to mind. One includes people who figure out where the populous is headed and put themselves at the front of the line. People who insert themselves at the head of a group of marchers are exhibiting showmanship, not leadership. The Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson have done this on occasion. The second type of person is more rare. This person recognizes when a difficult choice -- an unpopular choice -- must be made, and makes it, all the while knowing the decision will result in derision. I'll leave you with another maxim: What is popular isn't always right; and what is right isn't always popular. Wishful thinking is easy for those who do not have to deal with the cold equations of reality.


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