A person who rules or guides or inspires others
We are surrounded by leaders, aren’t we? Business, political, religious and military leaders abound. And it has always been like this. In nature, pack animals always have a leader and humans are no different. It could be said that out of all groups a natural leader always emerges. They are the ones who show the way (whether the way is right or wrong) and people follow them.
All over the world, there are statues erected of leaders of days gone by, cast in bronze or carved in stone. Great military leaders who fought bravely for their king and country, or political leaders who have changed the shape of history. Sometimes in dictatorships, the current leaders just erect statues of themselves to feed their own ego, and let people know of their status.
Some people have gone against the idea of one leader, and even try to organise their groups where everyone is the leader, where everyone has an equal voice, but that doesn’t work either – all that happens is nothing ever gets done! So, whichever way we look at it, a “natural” structure always arises, with a leader at the top, and a pyramid spanning out underneath him.
But what I want to know is, do we really need someone to lead us? Do we not know the way? I do not want to talk about business, or politics, or the military, for the people that lead do so solely on their own agenda. They are not trying to inspire people, just convince them to follow them, do you understand? When the king, or ruler makes a speech “to inspire” the people, he is doing so to convince you to carry out his wishes, such as go to war and kill or be killed for him.
The leader I want to talk about does not seek to control nor receive adulation from his followers, but is someone who shows the way, by being the way. Do you understand? It’s like walking the walk and talking the talk! The leader I talk about does the things he wants to inspire in others and does not require them to agree with him or even know who he is.
A great leader is someone who inspires but has no followers
So many people try to lead others, but ultimately all they are trying to do is gather followers. Some people only like the idea of being a leader if there are people to follow them. What would be the point of making a rousing military speech or engaging religious sermon if there were no one to listen? What would be the point in leading a political party if there were no members of the party? Do you see? A leader needs followers, or he is not a leader, he is just another man like you or I.
So what makes this man different, this leader without followers (which is surely a paradox ((logic) a statement that contradicts itself)). That we will find out!
Have you ever met someone who hasn’t tried to convert you to something or other, or got you to join some organisation or campaign? We turn up and here is the leader speaking trying to convince us of the evils of immigration, the power of the lord, the need to save the rainforest, and a multitude of other (sometimes worthwhile) ideas. Have you noticed how convincing some of them are? ”Yes. I will join the national party. The black man is taking our jobs!” “Yes, I agree. The only way we can free the animals from the animal testing laboratories is to start killing those who work there.” “Yes I see, the capitalist is evil, and needs to be stopped by any means necessary.” “Would I wear a bomb? Sure! Why not?”
Oh, we are so easily convinced!
Why are we so easily convinced? Because that is the leader’s job. Nothing more. He is not there to have an open discussion on the subject, he is trying to get you to follow him, and if you do, he has done his job. It doesn’t matter if he was convincing you to make jam for the summer fair to help the needy in the community, or convince you to attack parliament with a suicide bomb.
First, he gives you some background information, then uses some clever words so that his suggestion appeals to your mind, then he gets you to sign up. Easy!
Like I said, we are so easily convinced, because we do not take the time to explore with our own minds. If we did, we may not follow quite so quickly.
But who is this leader I speak of? He says nothing to inspire you. He asks nothing from you. He does not want nor need followers, and he has no aims nor manifestos, nor ideas. He just is.
“So what makes him a leader?” I can hear you ask, “he clearly does not fit the definition of what we know a leader to be.”
To which my reply is “exactly!”
We have all been told to live this way or that way, think this, think that, become this, become that, don’t drink, don’t cheat on your wife, do not lie, do not steal, but how often is it that the leaders, the powerful, become corrupted, and do the very things they are preaching to us not to do! You see, these people are not leaders, they are people who want followers. Today they might be preaching about the environment, tomorrow they might be preaching about how great the logging industry is.
These are not authentic people.
They do not believe this stuff in their hearts. They just want to lead somebody, anywhere! I remember my dad once saying to me: “Once you are a leader, you can lead anything,” and that rings so true with me now. Most people just lead for leading’s sake. They may even sound passionate about the issue they are trying to talk to us about, because that’s what leaders do, they sound convincing. Do they believe it themselves? Possibly. But what really matters here is that they just want to lead.
“Ever since I was a young boy I’ve known I would be a leader of men.” How nice! But empty, and worthless – the same as all the military, political, religious and business leaders. They would say anything just to get people to follow them.
“I think fox hunting is an integral part of english traditional rural culture.”
“Hear, hear,” said the followers.
Until the anti-fox hunting lobby got going, and the politician then contradicted himself:
“I think fox hunting is an unacceptably cruel activity which has no place in this country.”
“Hear, hear,” said the supporters. Except this time the followers were different, but the speaker was the same. Is this making any sense to you at all? I hope so.
The leader with no followers is different. Why? Because he stands alone. He is a person who, through great insight into the nature of all things, lives a life in balance with himself, in harmonious relationship with the universe and all other beings on the planet. I’m sorry, does this sound a little crazy to you? Perhaps it does, but to understand it, you have to let go of all you think you know about what it is to be a leader.
I used to try to “lead” people, but all I really was trying to do was to convince them through (mainly unconvincing) argument that I was right, and they were wrong.
Several years ago I realised (and it came as a great disappointment to me) that all I was doing was arguing. Sure, I might get a couple of people who thought I was right to follow my ideas, but why? Are my ideas perfect? Are they the greatest ideas ever to exist on this planet? Hardly! All I was doing was pandering to my own ego. The thought that I was better than anyone else – that I had the answers, and they didn’t. But that is what a leader tries to do, to convince others he is right, and so I felt positive again. “Maybe it is me who will be the leader,” I thought.
But the day I discovered that there is no right and no wrong way, just a way, I gave up all my ideas of being a leader of men! Oh well, no followers. But who needs followers, apart from the politicians, the gurus, the colonels, the managing directors…
So who is this leader, if it isn’t me and it isn’t the politicians, the spiritual or the military leaders? Who is this leader? Is it you? Is it all of us, or is it none of us? What do you think? Please let this question go deep into your mind for a moment.
When I see the way, and that way is compassion and love, and I live that way every moment I breathe, who is the leader? When I tend my crops with love, who is the leader? When I love my brother although I do not know him, who is the leader? When I show empathy for another who is suffering, who is the leader? When my mind is free from violence and conflict, who is the leader? All has been said.
The leader who does not lead.
by alan Macmillan Orr
“The Natural Mind- waking up”