To follow or to lead – that is the question

Filed in Blog by on September 3, 2013 2 Comments

The question is really one of authenticity or personal integrity.  Let me explain – I am the youngest of five children and so perhaps it’s no surprise (if you believe Michael Grose’s birth order theory that is) that I am a bit of rebel and don’t like to blindly go where others lead.  I will always ask questions and challenge the status quo which is probably why I was stopped in my tracks recently when I was told, “no-one will pay you to be a pioneer.”  This isn’t what you want to hear when you have just set up your own business particularly when that business is in the vanguard promoting the importance of human flourishing.

So what do you do?  Do you remain true to what you believe in and carry on advocating that there is another way of doing things, break new ground and become a leader but risk failure and all that comes with it.  Or do you play it safe and follow in the footsteps of others and do things the way they have always been done but better and accept that you have traded some of your potential for security?  It’s a tough choice and one that has occupied my mind for the past couple of weeks which is why there has been an absence of posts recently.

The answer for me lies in the third way.  The way that encompasses both points of view.  In my case this means that I remain as committed as ever to promoting human flourishing.  I fundamentally believe the world would be a better place if we made decisions on the basis of well-being rather than materialism.  However, if this approach is to gain traction it needs followers and to attract followers an idea has to be presented in such a way that people are willing and able to hear your message.  You need to talk their language.  So although I don’t change my course I do change the way I present my ideas and adopt the formalities of the business world so that my message is heard.  I guess sometimes to become a leader you need to be a follower too.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Elaine says:

    First of all I would certainly challenge anyone that said ‘no one will pay you to be a pioneer’ – how do they know and what evidence do they have? There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have been pioneers (I relate to retail as you know) and to be a pioneer to my way of thinking means you sally forth with a belief and a way of realising it (so a belief and a plan).
    If you are going to break new ground obviously you need new, innovative ideas that will address many of the questions that people are asking in your field; I would look at what those questions are – what do most people want the answers to and how can you address them? Interesting and innovative answers will attract their attention – also of course verification from customers to show they work!
    It may interest you to know that Alice and I have access to jewellery supply sources that we could easily order from wholesale and still make a living from – however they would not be authentic in a way that means anything to us – so we have to feel that the authenticity is there and this is the same with you I believe.
    Ignore that person that said pioneers don’t get paid – it could be hitting home b’cos that’s you’re worst fear (bills don’t get paid) or your dreams have just gone out of the window – my own belief is that talking to customers has a great and beneficial result because you get an instant reaction to their emotional response.
    I am puzzled because at the beginning you asked the question:authenticity or personal integrity – what is the difference? I am at a loss here.

    Best
    Elaine

    • admin says:

      Hi Elaine, thank you for your thoughtful comments. In relation to your confusion over the difference between authenticity or personal integrity I wasn’t using “or” as a means of separating two different choices but as a means of expressing the same idea in two different ways.

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