Even Leaders Need to Follow

In most areas of my life, I’m a leader. When I volunteer, I usually have new ideas, or help organize others, and work alongside of them. I am the founder and CEO of my two companies. Usually, I’m the one coming up with ways of how things should be done, and then implementing them. Yet, when I hike, I love to follow. Okay, not always, just when hiking the big 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado.

My friend Jayne has summitted 30 mountains over 14,000 feet. I would call her an expert. She loves taking people up their first time, too. She is super gracious and has no ego to prove anything. Well, except that she wants to “bag” another peak. Jayne is amazing, and I love following her lead. When I say lead, I really mean, serve.

Recently, Jayne and I decided to join up with a hiking group as they were going to summit Mt. Sherman —  a 14,036 ft. climb. I had already hiked it with one of my daughters six years earlier, yet I wanted to go with Jayne. I had been relatively inactive for the three weeks previous, due to a double ankle sprain that also happened when hiking with Jayne. This time, we were taking a different route from the base than when I had gone before.

The cool thing about Jayne is that she is always willing to be the last one hiking up, staying back with anyone who is slow. And hiking in altitude has some unique challenges. You can’t have an ego, and you must respect the mountain. Early on in the hike, I began struggling, yet Jayne, no matter what, would not go ahead. She insisted on staying with me. And I was slow. I frequently had to stop to try and catch my breath. I’m not a fast – altitude hiker anyway, but on this particular day, I was especially slow. For two thirds of the ascent, Jayne was patient and encouraging. That’s how long it took me, to get into a rhythm. I know that day, if it hadn’t been for Jayne’s leading, I wouldn’t have made it. I appreciated knowing that she was watching the weather, keeping an eye out for fast-moving thunderstorms. All I needed to do was keep going.

Upon reaching the summit, Jayne was as thrilled for me as she was for herself. She made sure that those in our group signed our name to the paper at the top, tucked it into its safe spot, hydrated ourselves, grabbed something to eat, then led us safely down the mountain. When I began getting tired, close to the end, she was perky and positive, to keep me motivated.

When recapping and telling others about our ascent, not once did she indicate that I was the one that slowed us. She’s phenomenal. She’s a true leader, a dear friend, and a servant. Who wouldn’t want to follow that?!

Here is what Strength, Dignity, and Grace look like, when you’re following:
Strength – Know when someone else is more qualified to lead, and step aside.
Dignity – Don’t allow your ego to overcome what is best in some circumstances.
Grace – Be gracious and allow others to shine and excel. Don’t think less of yourself, because someone is more talented and skilled.

When are times that you have found yourself either following or leading, when that is not the norm for you?

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