Sometimes You Lead Sometimes You Follow

Sometimes You Lead Sometimes You Follow

There is a country song called “Life is a Dance” and one of the lines in it goes something like this, “Life is a dance, sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow.” This one line made me stop and think how true this statement is.

As leaders, business owners, human beings we must learn how to do each of these well. Following comes before leading. Let’s face it, nobody wakes up and just leads from the womb. Yes, I admit some of us are blessed with gifts of natural born leadership; however, if those gifts are not developed properly and do not include a level of following, they won’t be a great leader.

The Basics

You must crawl before you can walk, you must walk before you can run. Details matter.

Coach John Wooden, the prolific basketball coach; and some say simply the best coach of life there ever was, taught his players how to put on socks before they even took to his court at UCLA.

Why did he start with teaching them how to put on their socks? Surely, they knew how to do that, after all, these were already accomplished athletes in their own rights, they came to UCLA to play for coach Wooden and take their careers to the next level. So why start with socks?

Coach explains it like this:

“I believe in the basics: attention to, and perfection of, tiny details that might be commonly overlooked. They may seem trivial, perhaps even laughable to those who don’t understand, but they aren’t. They are fundamental to your progress in basketball, business, and life. They are the difference between champions and near champions.

For example, at the first squad meeting each season, held two weeks before our first actual practice, I personally demonstrated how I wanted players to put on their socks each and every time: Carefully roll the socks down over the toes, ball of the foot, arch and around the heel, then pull the sock up snug so there will be no wrinkles of any kind.”

Socks put on wrong could quite literally mean the difference between UCLA winning a championship or not winning one. Putting them on wrong and having wrinkles means blisters and sub-optimal performances by his players.

Socks – the basics. Master the basics and you master it all. Because it all matters. Every last detail counts because of the compound effect, explained by Darren Hardy in his book of the same name.

Lead or Follow: The Compound Effect

“It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.”

― Darren Hardy

Following before leading. Daily steps, baby steps if you will, done consistently will bring you the achievements you seek.

If you can’t do the basics on a master level, you won’t be able to master the level or trade you are looking to master. Nobody escapes this universal law.

Everybody falls. Everybody fails. The best of the best fail forward, they fail often and they fail fast. Failure is just a stop on the journey of success. When all else fails get back to basics. Maybe you forgot how to put your socks on in the morning. Get back to the basics.

If you don’t carefully put your socks on and form a solid foundation for your success you will get blisters and cuts and fall more often, yet not necessarily forward.

Your Take 3 Action Steps

  • Get back to basics. Follow before you lead. Who will you follow today? What of their success actions will you be able to imitate and implement?
  • Get back to basics. What are your daily routines or rituals? Do you have one? What we do in the morning sets the tone for our day. What we do at night will determine how well we sleep and how we start our day in the morning.
  • Get back to basics. Define the basic building blocks of your success.

How can I help you get back to basics and refine your path to success? Let me know in the comments below.