March 28, 2013

Who’s Afraid (to be) the Big Bad Wolf?

Leadership is something we strive to teach our students here at the International Business School. We do it by throwing them to the wolves in the first year, and letting them start up their own businesses. We insist that they take initiative in their studies and in projects, and as teachers try our best to be facilitators of education rather than imparters of information.

Some people are natural leaders, but many are not. Some people think that a leader must be an extravert, but nowadays more and more studies show how remarkable the introverts are, and how we loud(er)-mouthed people should listen more and speak less…

While leadership may not come naturally to all, it is certainly, like with many skills, something one can learn. And while learning to do this, just like when we were babies learning how to walk, we often will find ourselves crashing to our behinds, humiliated by our failures. The secret to success of course, is not to be put off by our failures, but to get up, and try to walk again!

The annoying this about human nature is this: (well there are many annoying things, it’s true, and this is just one of them!) The older we get, the more scared we become to fail! And worse than that is this: We are often even more scared of success!

Marianne Williamson[1] puts it very well:
“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?...”

Why are we so afraid to succeed, to lead, to let our light shine? Perhaps it stems from our upbringing, from our parents’ voices telling us not to be too proud, or from classmates telling us not to show off.  Some people are afraid that they will end up evil if they wield the power they have been given. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."[2]

Are you afraid to lead? Do you dare to take chances; do you dare to ‘not be liked’? For many of us, it’s much easier to remain a sheep, to follow rather than take the lead. There seems to be less danger there. But even sheep need a shepherd. A shepherd to keep the herd safe from the wolf – leaders don’t have to be big bad wolves themselves! 

So, dare to speak up, and who knows where you might end up! 
Maybe somewhere you dreamed of?

[1] by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles  [2] John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902)

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