Lead is a funny word. A stellar example of a homonym at its best. It can refer to a complex compound that can weigh you down. It can refer to your status as a lemming as you follow someone else’s lead. Or it can refer to being that someone who is the leader. The trail blazer. The delegator. The non-lemming. The problem is: how do you go from being weighed down by being a lemming to being that blazer of trails ? How do we go from being lead to being in the lead ?
Now I’ve been working since I was 13. I was a kick-ass babysitter and nanny leading children through games and potty training. I scooped the meanest ball of cream that graced a cone or got slurped up a straw. I served a 1/4 chicken so fast Switzerland felt the breeze all the while rocking the red lace-up Swiss Miss uniform and white waitress shoes. Oh yeah I’ve got pictures to prove it. I’ve taken concealed weapons off concert goers and lead celebrities to the back door. I’ve kept doctor’s offices running smoothly and helped lead patients down a road to recovery. I’ve taught classes to know what hysterosalpingoophorectomy means and no, I’m not telling you. Work it out ! A good leader help you learn for yourself. All these jobs required me to use leadership skills in some capacity or another.
My new job (Yeah !!!! Yes, the exclamation points are still necessary) is providing amazing opportunities to be a leader. There has been the obligatory corralling of the chaos as is my lot in life. It’s going on 8 jobs where I’ve had to either set up the office from scratch or at the very least provide structure to the mess left behind. I’m following the lead of my new boss (!!!) and co-workers (!!!!) in learning about our partners, clients, board members and services. I’m taking the lead on a few projects and events that I’m very excited about. I’m straddling the role of lemming and leader while I navigate my way.
It’s a bit of an adjustment, this non-lemming role. I’ve typically had jobs that were very process, rule oriented and I was not involved in making up either. This job has metrics and expectations but I’m helping to make the rules. This job has processes and guidelines but the twists and turns can lead you down different paths. This job is allowing me to become a leader in ways I didn’t expect and I find it terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. It’s like being on the Lemming Express Rockin’ Roller Coaster if such a ride existed. And I guess for me it does.
I’m in the lead car of this ride. By working hard to make this job my own, I’ll demonstrate that all the other times I’ve lead the way can apply here too. That my skills as a leader and the enjoyment I get from leading others will help new lemmings find their way. Perhaps by being a part of that process, I’ll have a hand in developing new leaders. After all, we all have to be a lemming sometime. How long depends on who’s in the lead.