Our life is entirely different when we are leading it. It demonstrates that we are taking our life seriously by doing our best to live up to who G-d made us to be.
Life is completely different when we are leading. We are actually taking our lives seriously and we are going to do our best to live up to who God made us be.
It is so much easier to follow. It’s so much easier to sit back in life and not to initiate. I’m not saying that it’s much easier, I’m saying that it’s so much easier. That’s the reason why we will often choose to follow rather than lead. Because it’s so much easier.
When we’re sick, what do we do? We go to the doctor and ask the doctor, what should I take? We put our entire health in the doctor’s hands with often not even thinking about what we may have been doing that caused this or what we can stop doing to eliminate this.
My relationship isn’t working. We just go to the therapist and say, can you fix this for us? We are just following because it is so much easier. We want to turn something into a success, whatever type of an endeavor it might be, we go to the quote/unquote, expert, tell me the steps that will make this work. We put the power in their hands without actually taking complete, full ownership of what it is that we want.
It’s our nature to always look for a leader, to look for someone who is going to do this for us, who is going to lead us in this direction. And very often as people when we don’t find a leader, we create one. We take someone who is really not a competent leader and we make them a leader because we so desperately want someone to take us to the, quote/unquote, Promised Land.
Why? Because it’s so much easier. It’s so much easier to be a victim, to be able to have the opportunity to blame someone else when things aren’t working rather than standing up and taking responsibility. And that’s why we live in a culture where people spend their time blaming other people for the way they feel, for whatever is going on in their life instead of taking responsibility. Because taking responsibility means that you are taking leadership in your life. You are actually leading your life. And that is so much harder.
When we follow, we are not taking a stance, we’re not taking a position. We’re safe. We are not saying, this is who I am, this is the way I’m going to do it, this is what I believe. We don’t take a position. When you don’t take a position, there is nothing for anyone to challenge. It keeps us very safe. And what we do is we only react to other people’s positions. And that’s why we become very judgemental. We’re busy looking at what anyone else is doing who is taking a position, who is taking a stance, and we’re explaining why they’re wrong, why they shouldn’t be doing it. Well, what position do you have? What stance are you taking? And that’s why I believe that even taking a wrong position is very often better than taking no position at all. Because at least the person taking a wrong position is making an attempt to lead their life. Maybe they got it wrong this time, but at least they have the courage to stand up and say, this is the position I’m taking. Okay, it was wrong, we’ll get it right next time. But the courage is there, the leadership is there and so they can actually stand up and lead their lives.
And the reality is that the reason why it’s so difficult to lead our lives is that leading is lonely. Most people don’t lead. And that’s why they say, it’s lonely at the top. And I’m not talking about being a world leader, I’m not even talking about being the leader of a community, I’m talking simply about leading our own lives.
Simply defining your path will isolate you to some degree because you have now defined yourself, which automatically differentiates you and separates you from others who are defined differently. However, one cannot actualize their life without beginning to lead their life, without saying, I am going to be a leader in my own life.
And this is what happens when we do lead, when we do take a stance, when we do take a position, it causes others to complain about us, to blame us.
And you have to remember this very clearly, remember that people who blame do not lead. This is exactly what will differentiate you from those who are blaming you, that you are leading and they are blaming. And you should let that remind you of who you are, that I am going to lead my life. And, yes, I know people will now blame me for taking this position or making this decision or doing this thing, but I am a leader. I am not going to be the person standing on the side blaming everyone else who has the courage to lead.
People will tell you you’re breaking up your family because of a decision that you made, you’re arrogant. They’re going to say you’re selfish and you’re only thinking about yourself. And all of this can possibly confuse you. You do need to look into them to make sure that they’re not true because sometimes we can be arrogant and selfish and sometimes what we do is breaking up a family. However, when it’s coming out of defining ourselves and doing what it is that we believe is the right thing to do, then we are being a leader. And that’s exactly what we should be.
And because others choose to see what we’re doing in some other way because that’s what suits them and they are blamers instead of leaders should not change us from leading our lives.
And this is one explanation of a teaching from Ethics of Our Fathers, which says, be a tail to the lions rather than a head to the foxes. In other words, hang out with the leaders, don’t hang out with the followers. You see, the moment we go from being in the category of foxes, even if it’s the head of the foxes, to the category of the lions, even if it’s the tail of the lions, we have moved into an entirely different league. We are moving from a league of followers to a league of leaders. And it’s better to be a tail leader than to be a head follower because life is completely different when we are leading. We are actually taking our lives seriously and we are going to do our best to live up to who God made us to be.
If your life is being led, as most people are, by those people who are around us, then you’re not leading. Here is how I see it as a Rabbi. I can do all the things that Rabbis do. I look at what Rabbis are supposed to do, and I do them. I’m not leading my life, I’m following the system, the way everyone is a Rabbi. It is only when I look into myself and I ask if this is what or how a Rabbi should be doing these things that I am now becoming a leader. Because even if I’m doing the exact same things as every other Rabbi is doing them but I’m doing them after I ask the question of whether this is the best way to do it, is this what I should be doing, only after asking those questions can I look at myself and say, yes, I am finally leading in my position as a Rabbi.
And this is why real leaders innovate. They are always looking for new and better ways to do things. They are not satisfied with the status quo and the way everyone else is doing them. And we can all lead our lives and we all must lead our lives, as long as we are unafraid to be alone, to be blamed and to be accused.
And, so, I strongly encourage you to ask yourself, are you leading your life? And if not, when will you begin?