Follow The Leader
My youngest son continues to be one of my greatest teachers. I do not always enjoy our lessons. For instance, Sawyer is not open to coercion. As a parent, I feel sometimes as though it is my right to coerce, that I have lots and lots on my plate – I have bills and a magazine and emails and a wife – and so would he please just do what I’m telling him already so I can keep the family ship from running aground? No, he will not. He will not be coerced into doing anything. He is, however, quite open to leadership. There is a fine line between coercion and leadership. Sometimes the leader and the coercer say precisely the same thing. Sometimes the leader and the coercer both say, “I am the adult, and this particular rule is not open for discussion.” The difference is that the leader speaks from a place of absolute certainty. The leader knows for himself, without any agreement from those he is leading, that what he speaks is the truth. He knows it the way a writer knows when a sentence works or doesn’t; he knows it the way he knows which songs he loves and which songs he doesn’t.
The coercer may also know that what he speaks is the truth, but he is unwilling to accept that this knowledge is enough. The coercer needs the ones he is leading to agree with him before he accepts the certainty already available to him. How easily leadership can become coercion. How easy to descend to pleading or anger. How easy to be unwilling to stand alone in a place of knowing. And how abandoned we believe we will feel even within our greatest truths.
And yet once we speak from here, see how quickly others join us. Who is not drawn to that light? Who does not want the safety such certainty provides? It is the only safety available to us, after all. There is no other place to rest. Beyond this place there is only the ceaseless search for that which will lead us back.
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