What makes a leader? Why be a leader? And, How to be a leader?
I was visiting Colorado this past weekend. While there, I pushed myself to explore new environments to find God far away from the comfortable home I’ve made in Minnesota. When I do activities like this – activities that push me to my limits physically, emotionally, and spiritually – I can’t help but daydream about my purpose in life and how I am going to fulfill it with the limited time I have alive on earth.
Anyone can hike and climb a physical mountain. But adventure I find most challenging is, how do we scale the vast mountain of potentials we all have inside of our own selves?
Last weekend, on my last day in Colorado, I made plans to meet a friend and hike a trail that went along the mountainous curves of Lookout Mountain that stands above Denver, Colorado. As we parked his car in the parking lot, and packed our backpacks, and walked away from the road, it felt like we left society behind us as a whole.
The trail began going up, and down, and over a few avalanches of boulders that had fallen over the trail. It took us a few miles, but we eventually arrived at some of the most amazing scenic overlooks that provided me some of the best views I had ever seen in my life
I looked down from the mountain into the valley, and gazed at the hundreds of cars driving in steady waves of speeding headlights and roaring engines, and I saw the sight much differently than when I had been riding in one of those cars as I drove up the mountain.
It suddenly dawned on me that I was now on top of the mountain looking down on the masses of our population – I was standing in a place where few people have traveled, but lots had dreamed of standing. I had pushed myself to the peak of someplace spectacular. I realized I was seeing life differently while standing on the mountain top, than I had when I simply rode in a car and looked out the window at the same mountain. I felt alive and unique on top of the mountain. When I was driving on the road, I was just another person trapped inside their cage looking and dreaming of the adventure outside of it.
While I stood gazing at the beautiful view of Denver below me, I felt a spiritual power burgeoning inside me. I realized everyday there are chances to just ignore your deeper calling to be unique and stay locked inside your cage with the masses, rather than breaking free and hiking the mountains of challenge to find who you truly are.
That thought made me ask myself a question. I asked, ”In an America filled with hi-ways and billboards of brand names, leading us all to the most popular destinations in life, how does one find their true-self, their unique path of adventure, and their purpose in life amongst all the noise?”
I asked myself again a question we probably all ask. “Why am I living this way and doing this? Why am I becoming what everyone else wants me to be?”
I then asked myself, “What separates the people who blaze their own path to the top of a mountain, and those who settle driving with the rest of the masses along the hi-ways of life?”
Another spiritual wave hit me, and I woke up to the fact that it’s the quality of leadership inherent inside all of us, that guides us along the path we choose to take in life. It’s the people who embrace the leadership who climb the mountains of life, and experience the most amazing, one-of-a-kind views that no one else has ever seen before.
As I looked down at Denver from the mountain top, I asked God, “So what makes someone a leader? How does someone reach views every day of their lives like this?”
I felt a response arrive in another wave of insight, “You’re called to be a leader if you spend your time daydreaming new ways of doing the same old things, even if the crowds around you look at your strange, and say, ‘But you can’t do that, it’s never been done like that before.”
And the way you really know you’re called to be a leader is when you’re start executing your dreams, and the people around you begin to change their life path to emulate yours, because they see the happiness you have found. It dawned on me. That’s when you become a true leader. When you have the ability to lead others away from the commonly-driven, boring, empty roads, to the mountain-peaks of happiness you have discovered, then, I believe, you have discovered a clear glimpse into what your purpose of life may be.
I’ll illustrate the path I am discussing in this equation here:
DREAMING + BEING + EXECUTING + FOLLOWING GOD’S GUIDANCE + LEADING OTHERS TO THE HAPPINESS YOU HAVE FOUND = FINDING YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE.
As we climbed down the mountain and returned to the car we left off the highway, and I looked again at the rest of society all funneling through well-traveled highway leading them to experience the most common and popular destinations in life, I saw a glimmer of insight as I looked back up to the mountain top experience I just had.
I realized that if you choose the path everyone else takes, you will see a journey of life that everyone else sees. But if you choose the path to be a leader; and explore; and embrace the path of being different; you will get the chance to indulge in experiences that no one else in the world has ever seen before. You can then lead others to places people have never thought to travel to before. Ultimately, we all have the chance to become a person that can influence the world in a totally different way than anyone who has ever lived before. It’s all up to us: If we choose to embrace and fuel the leadership qualities inherent in us or not, we can experience a mountain-top life, rather than a life that goes through the same hi-ways everyone else takes.