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7 Ways to Become a Leader When You’ve Been Following For Too Long



7 Ways to Become a Leader When You’ve Been a Follower Too Long

So, you want to become a leader. The only problem is that you have always been a follower, and you don’t know exactly what you need to do to make that transition. You may even doubt that you have what it takes to be a leader at all. Here are a few important truths. First of all, you may be more ready to lead than you think. In addition to this, there are things that you can do to develop leadership skills, demonstrate those skills, and put them to use right now.

How to Become a Leader When You’ve Been a Follower For Too Long

1. Use What You Have Learned as a Follower

First of all, being a follower is not a negative thing. In fact, everybody is a follower in at least one area of their life. It simply means that you recognize that somebody has the experience and knowledge required to accomplish certain tasks, and that your best way of making things happen are to use your skills in support of that person’s efforts.


Even better, you can use what you have learned as a follower to make yourself a better leader. For example, you’ve probably learned to diplomatically express concern or disagreement. That’s an excellent skill for a leader to have. You also understand the importance of collaboration and recognizing that everybody plays an important role on a team. When you lead people, you will know to encourage this attitude in your followers as well.


2. Don’t Wait For a Promotion

You do not need to have a job title with the words supervisor, executive, lead, or manager to practice and display your leadership skills. Instead, find opportunities at work, at home, and in your community to be a leader. Here are a few things that you can try:

  • If you are a member of a church or any community organizations volunteer to lead committees.
  • Become a coach, umpire, or referee
  • At work, most big projects are divided into smaller sub-projects. Offer to take the lead on one of those.
  • Become active in the PTO.
  • Choose a charity and organize an event such as a golf tournament or auction

Not only will you develop and strengthen your leadership skills, other people will begin to recognize you as a leader. This is great for networking opportunities and references.


3. Understand Your Strengths And Then Use Them

One difference between leaders and followers is that leaders have taken the time to inventory their personal and professional strengths, and they are willing to use those strengths. Followers, on the other hand, tend only to use their skills. Your skills are the things that you have been trained to do in order to accomplish tasks. Your strengths are the innate qualities within you that  you can develop and use in order to become a good leader. For example, you may have learned the skill of computer programming, but your strength is keeping people motivated and helping them to feel good about themselves.


Understand Your Strengths And Then Use Them


4. Work on Your Communications Skills

Good leaders are effective communicators in all areas. This includes speaking in front of groups, telephone communications, electronic communications, and written communications. Leaders know how to identify their message and communicate that message in a way that their audience understands. If you have any deficits when it comes to communicating with others, work on those now. Take a class, join toastmasters, do whatever it takes. This is not an area in which you can fake your way through, or find other ways to compensate, if you want to be a boss.


5. Praise And Support Others

Great leaders provide motivation and uplift others. They take notice when others have done well and they praise them for that. They also proactively look for people who need support, and find ways to provide that support. If you are the member of a team, you can develop these skills by giving your peers credit and thanks for the work that they do. You can also pay attention and offer to take up slack when you see that someone has been given too much to handle.


6. Tell Others About Your Ideas

One thing about leaders is that they believe in the value of their own ideas. Because of this, they are willing to share these ideas with the people who can help them make them happen. If you are used to being a follower, this can be a difficult task. You may have fear that your idea will be rejected or sharply criticized.  You may also have self doubt. After all, there is a bit of ego that goes with being willing to put yourself out there, and essentially announce ‘This is my idea, and I think it is so good that we need to make this happen.’ However, this is a good kind ego, and you will need to develop as much of this as possible if you want to be a leader. Also, there is no way to be recognized as a potential leader without also being known for having great ideas.


7. Lead Yourself

How can you ever be a good leader, if you are directionless and indecisive in your own life? You cannot. So, set goals and work to make things happen for yourself. Set a timeline as well, so you don’t procrastinate. Then, do what it takes to mold yourself into the best person you can be. Finish your degree. Take a class to learn about a new piece of software. Move to a new city. Get organized. Basically, if you are falling short in areas of your life, fix things. If you have a professional or personal dream or objective, get the ball rolling. Good leaders are determined and they have a sense of purpose.


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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



a compliment (1)

Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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