“A leader leads by example whether he intends to or not.” ~Unknown
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to “be somebody.” For the majority of my life, I worked very hard at being whatever I thought I needed to be in order to be a great leader amongst my peers.
I wanted so deeply to inspire and move others, and to make a difference in a way that was unforgettable. I thought being a leader meant that I had to constantly prove that I was good enough to win the acknowledgment and appreciation of others.
For the first 25 years of my life, I exhausted myself trying to be the smartest, the prettiest, the most outgoing, the coolest, the sexiest, the fittest, the most fun, the most envied, the most desirable, and the most popular.
As a result of my inner passion and desire to be a light for others, I ended up destroying many parts of myself. I sacrificed my authenticity, my intuition, my self-respect, my self-love—all for the sake of “being somebody” in the eyes of other people.
I allowed myself to stay in relationships that were toxic for me, I treated my body like a human garbage can, and I sabotaged myself in the face of opportunity because deep down, I felt like a fraud.
This is because in many ways, I was. I was so busy trying to please everyone, and to be the person that had all the answers that I lost myself completely.
This journey brought me so much pain, but I’ve decided there is light in the darkness. There is possibility, healing, and joy in learning from the pain and creating something useful with it.
My mother once told me, “Erin, once you know, you can’t un-know.” She meant that once I know I have a choice—that it is possible to experience something better—I will never be able to forget it.
That made it much harder to keep doing the things I knew weren’t good for me. This was why I began to let go of the need to be a leader, and instead decided to just learn to be myself. I chose to “be somebody” in my own eyes first and foremost.
Until we know ourselves, we are lost. Once we find ourselves, we can be found by others.
I think about how right my mother was on a daily basis. As I continue to learn more about who and what I really am, I now fully embrace the idea that life is choice. We get to choose how we interpret and perceive everything. What we choose determines whether or not we rise or fall.
I am also learning that a real leader doesn’t try to lead, but simply becomes the kind of person who others observe, learn from, and feel inspired to follow.
A leader is a teacher by default. A leader doesn’t try to be happy all the time, but embraces every aspect of his or her process, quietly shining the light for others to do the same.
A leader simply is.
As I learn to live my life for me first, I begin to see how the choices I make effect more than just me. When I’m operating from a place of fear, worrying about how others perceive me, that limits the positive impact that I can have on the people around me.
This makes me realize how much opportunity there is to be of service in the world, just by living my own life honestly, authentically, and in alignment with my own heart.
It’s important for us to understand the power of learning about who we really are and what really matters to us. Then, we can align our choices with the morals and boundaries we set for ourselves from a place of self-love and self-respect.
What we contribute to the world through the choices that we make has a ripple effect. Your life affects mine, and visa-versa.
Ultimately, the way we choose to interpret and perceive things will not only affect our own well-being, but it will affect the collective well-being. Therefore, we must lead by example. We must honor ourselves instead of judging ourselves.
Judgment keeps us stuck exactly where we are, and the world suffers as a result.
When we’re conscious of the simple, yet profound power that lies within our choices, we can create a better world every day and be powerful leaders just by shining our own light.
Ultimately it comes down to this: What kind of person do you want to be? Who does your heart know you already are? What type of world do you want to create for yourself and for the future generations? Do you believe you have the power to make a positive difference?
I believe we are all leaders inside. I believe that we all have something to teach one another. I believe that there is power in living authentically, in alignment with our own hearts and intuition.
Everything we do matters, whether we realize it in the moment or not.
This is not to say that we should expect ourselves to be perfect, because that’s not realistic, and we can always learn a lot from mistakes. However, I have to wonder what the world would be like if we all took responsibility for what we were contributing or not contributing to it.
I have to wonder how nice it would be to live in a world where everyone chose to learn from wisdom, rather than from fear.
What if everyone thought “What can I bring to the world?” instead of “What can I take from it?”
If we choose to awaken the leader within, then life is no longer about “us against them” or comparison, competition, and all these things that are rooted in separation and fear, which ultimately destroy us.
Instead, we can choose to quietly lead by example, from a place of wisdom, responsibility, integrity, trust, love, joy, and connection to each other.
As our inner leader awakens, we will know that who and what we really are and what we contribute does make a difference. I am already somebody. You are already somebody.
Photo by suez92
About Erin Lanahan
Erin is an Internationally Certified Life Coach, Yoga Instructor, and Motivational Writer and Speaker. Her mission is to inspire as many people as possible to return to their natural state of peace, abundance, health, inspiration & love so they may create the life the deeply desire. Visit her blog and You Tube Page.