Day 23,981: Spot checking myself

My mother-in-law is infamous for incessantly asking her grandchildren if they are a follower or a leader. We always hate the question whenever asked for many reasons, not the least of which is a lack of consideration about the value of team play and spirit. It always put the children on the defensive, and we had many arguments about the question whenever it surfaced.

This is not to denigrate the value of leadership. I have spent much of my work life being a department leader. It afforded me, as a working mother, greater flexibility.  It also required responsibilities which many times took me away from my family.  It is, like most things, a double-edged sword.

Now, in my personal life, I find that I revel in being a follower. It comes with some guilt as I often think I should be doing more, but it also has the advantage of letting me leave after meetings and events with a free mind. I did my bit, and now I can go home.

I became more aware of the value of following with protest marches.  I attended some initially to support causes, but ultimately came to support those who did the harder work of arranging the events.

Now, at Moms Demand Action, I’m considered a local volunteer lead for certain communication efforts, but I’m actually a solid follower. I show up at monthly meetings to support the amazing women and men who somehow find the time and creative spirit to pull things together. I’ve participated in a walk across a bridge for Wear Orange day, a Halloween parade, a local musical showing as part of Concert Across America, and a movie screening of Armor of Light, a documentary that has stayed with me ever since. Each event was created and developed by someone else. I just attended to add heft to the audience. And, I did get something out of each.

I find that I like being a participant.  Every actor needs an audience, and my role now is to support those who put themselves front and center on key issues of concern.  I’m glad for their passion as I’m not sure I have that level of focus or devotion yet.  I’m glad to show up and keep them motivated.

Being a follower feels important. It feels needed. It feels wanted. I’m happy to follow and be pulled along. I’m happy to have the leaders’ backs.  I only wish there were more fellow followers along for the ride.

My husband used to tell our kids that 90% of success was just showing up.  I hope some of the causes I’m supporting will be successful and that enough of us keep showing up. If you need encouragement on the value of showing up, let this be it.  Be a follower if, for no other reason, than to keep the leaders energized on their paths. They need us followers. Join the fray.


Focus on Gun Sanity:  If you have access to Amazon Prime, or can order a movie from Amazon, consider watching Armor of Light. It’s a documentary directed by Abigail Disney of that famous Disney family, and features Lucy McBath, who just won a House seat in Georgia in the last election .  It’s best watched with others so you can discuss it, but if you don’t have a watching buddy, go for it anyway.  It’s thought provoking for sure.