In his book "Aspire" Kevin Hall equates the meaning of a “leader” to that of a “pathfinder”. That really resonates with me. We are all finding our path in life and sometimes some of us inspire others to come along for the journey. I believe that we are all leaders in our own lives, first and foremost. We have a responsibility to lead our own personal journey before we seek to lead others.
Similarly, if we don't find our own path then we are not taking responsibility for ourselves. If we do what other people think we should do, or what we feel they think we should do, we are allowing them to be responsible for our lives; they become our pathfinders. This so often happens when people do what they think their parents or society want them to do and they end up on a journey they didn’t want to be on. They are then ambling down someone else's path.
Some “leaders” entice people to follow them by instilling fear – in my opinion they are called tyrants. Once in a while, however, we find people who are journeying down an amazing path they have found or created. They inspire us to walk with them, and we do so, without any feelings of doubt, resistance or friction. In fact we learn much from them. We walk with them because we are excited to see what happens and where the path is going to lead. Often these people are looked up to as THE leader but in actuality true leaders and pathfinders need other leaders to get through the jungle.
I often visualize the journey of life as an expedition through a thick, green, lush forest, with hanging trees and roots to trip over. It’s an amazing place full of vibrancy and beauty but, at times, needs to be navigated with care and diligence. Some people have the vision or knowledge of what is on the other side and they know what's possible; others are really good with directions and they are the ones who read the maps, hold the compass and find the best path. Some have physical strength and experience of the terrain and know how to choose the right branch to chop aside so the path can be cleared, and be passable.
So you see we all have our jobs, within our skill sets, as leaders. In an ideal world we choose the path we want to go on and know the duties within the leadership team.
As I see it – we all have a responsibility to be the pathfinder in our own lives; if we happen to inspire others to walk the journey with us then that is a privilege and a responsibility not to be taken lightly.