Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Courageous Followers

Practice is over, I unlock the girls locker room and back away quickly, oh so quickly, and then I see I. walking over. She's a junior at a charter high school that I've got no love for, one located on the campus of the school we feed to, a not-so-symbiotic pairing that has generated its fair share of norte-sur garbage.

ME: I hear stuff's going down at your school.
HER: It's not us; it's them.
ME: No, no. It takes two to tango, two to mambo, two to meringue, two to...
HER: Okay, okay, okay.
ME: So what's the problem?
HER: Not me. It's other people.
ME: But aren't you a leader?
HER: No, not me.
ME: You're a follower? Who do you follow?
HER: The right people.

Dig on that. Dig on that wisdom and self-awareness from a 16-year-old. The right people.

There was more, about who the right people were, about pre-calculus and UC Santa Cruz, but I was all about that line. Because we talk and talk about building leaders and developing leaders and the fostering of leaders, and while that's all well and good, our efforts are exclusive and exclusionary. By definition, leaders are the minority. It's literally impossible for everyone to be a leader, and what you're left with is a large number of folks who are, generally speaking, followers.

Take away the stigma, cuz that's how we live.

I. is a special kid -- thoughtful, articulate, committed -- but she isn't a leader, and that should not make her less. She gets it, and she's found the people, the right people, who support her and allow her to move forward. The fact that those people can be in rather short supply only underscores the extent of this accomplishment. Seriously, we don't want more of this? Kids who can evaluate situations, find the best path, even if they can't blaze the best path? We don't work on this kind of thing enough, developing our courageous followers. Like I., resisting all kinds of negative shit to find the right people and strike out with them, forward to the limits fo their ability.


Blogger Mike said...

Wait, if we can all be above average can't we all be leaders?

Thanks for keeping it real, especially when it makes us examine the throw away assumptions we spew at kids.

4:06 PM  

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