Lead - Do Not
In the Christian church, the average person is a
sheep. That is why they are referred to as a Flock. People are expected
to follow their Shepherd everywhere He dictates. The shepherd in this
case is the Priest, speaking for God.
For centuries, it was thought that the average
person just couldn’t understand the Word of God. This is why it wasn’t
until the last century that the Catholics stopped performing the
liturgy in Latin.
If the average person can’t understand the word of
God anyway, why perform Mass in a language they can understand?
Witchcraft is different. Witches are expected to
be leaders, not followers. When I first came into the Craft, it was
called the religion of Priests because everyone who came into this
Path, went through an Initiation, and was expected to work their way up
to being a Priest or Priestess.
Things have changed over the last 20 years. Now
there are those who feel that not everyone who is called to the Path
should have to do all the work to become a Priest or Priestess. Some
just want to be here because it just feels right, but they don’t want
to take the responsibility of being a Priest or Priestess.
If you are Solitaire, you must be a Priest or
Priestess by necessity. There is no one for you to follow. Somehow
though, a lot of those who are Solitaire never seem to do any of the
work to become Priest or Priestess. Within a Coven structure, you have
teachers to show you what to do, and encourage you to work toward
higher goals than just following everyone else.
Just as with every other group you can think of,
within Witchcraft, there are the 10% of the people who do 90% of the
work. Those are the leaders. Who are these people? How do you find
them? They are the people that everyone seems to know. Just as with
everything else in Witchcraft, the leaders are not self proclaimed,
they are recognized as leaders by everyone else in the Community.
When I first found my Path, I was a follower.
Those of us who come from a Christian upbringing, are taught from a
very young age to follow the leader…whomever that leader may be. I
spent the first several years on my Path, following, and watching. I
had a bad experience with my first teacher, and I wanted to scope out
the situation, find out who I could trust.
I fell into a leadership role quite by accident.
Two weeks before our annual festival in August, I was at a drum circle,
and a friend asked me for a favor. I should have known better than to
say yes. It turned out that the person running Safety for the festival
had a heart attack a few weeks earlier, and was not able to get around
well, and barely at all in the mountains of Colorado. My friend asked
if I could be the eyes, ears and legs of Safety during the festival.
I accepted the offer knowing that it would define
how I was going to be known in the Community. If it was a good
festival, I would have a solid reputation as someone who had helped
pull it off. If the festival didn’t go well, that too would give me a
reputation, but probably not one I wanted.
Having a good festival was by no means a sure
thing. The year prior had been horribly run. It was not well attended
because people had heard so many contradictory rumors about it being
full the day registration opened. One group I know sent in three
registrations in the same envelope. Two were registered, the third was
rejected because they said the registration limit had been reached.
All three people did end up attending the
festival, but that gives you an idea of how poorly it had been run.
This year I was being conscripted to help, was run by a completely
different group of volunteers. They were untested, and I was untested.
I came into the process at the last possible moment, and had no idea
how it would turn out.
Was I scared? Absolutely! I had never done
anything like this before, but I had enjoyed attending the festival for
several years, and it seemed only fair to help out. Now I didn’t come
into this role of effectively running the Safety department completely
cold. Every festival attendee must work a two hour work shift sometime
during the festival. There were several years I had worked safety,
walking from camp to camp, checking to make sure people weren’t being
stupid, and most importantly, being seen.
As it turns out, the weather was perfect, and the
festival was considered one of the best ever. People seemed to like
what I did as Safety Lieutenant, and I was asked to run the department
the next year. This started what was to become a 12 year commitment to
the festival, which saw me work my way up to running the entire
festival as Co-Director of Operations, and then get elected to a five
year term on the Board of Directors.
Easy, nothing to it, right? Wrong, there was a lot
of very hard work involved, and just as much luck. It’s easy to look at
those who are leaders and think that they have something that allows
them to somehow know what to do, and when to do it. They don’t. They
simply found something they wanted to do, and did it. Most of the time
they did it because the task needed doing, not because they thought
they would be able to find anyone to help them, or because it would
somehow raise their status in the Community.
These people are the leaders, not because they
decided one day to be a leader, but because they decided to do
something. Ask any leader in your Community if they were worried about
taking on a specific task, and they’ll say yes. It’s fairly easy to
look back after the fact and act like there was nothing to it, but as
the project is starting, there are a lot of worries. Always.
I’m not talking just about the people who initiate
a project, but all the others involved. None of them really know what
will happen. Will the project be a success, will it fail spectacularly?
Will it just whimper and fade away? Anyone who helps in any project,
puts their own integrity into that project, and feels how that project
reflects back on them, no matter what the outcome.
It takes real guts to volunteer for something.
That’s why most people let others do all the work, they don’t have the
guts to help start something new. There are all sorts of excuses people
use, they have other commitments, they don’t know how, or they just
don’t have the time. While these are all valid reasons, are they really
Sure, once it’s already a success, people are more
than willing to help, as long as they don’t have to do much work. They
just want to be able to bask in the reflected success. They seem to
think that once an ongoing project has become successful, it will
somehow run itself. These are people who want to get the glory, but
aren’t willing to work for it. They want to have it handed to them.
It all comes back to taking responsibility for
yourself. Once you have started to take responsibility for yourself,
you’ll find that you’ll want to do more. We all have those times in our
lives where nothing seems to go right. As Witches, we find those times
happen quite frequently. The job situation, the family, the more you
have to work with, the more things can become unbalanced. When these
times happen, you sit back, and work on them.
Once your personal life is back in order, you find
that you have time for other things. Always work on you first. You are
the only thing you have total control over. When things seem to be
going well, you’ll find yourself looking around for other things to do.
This is the time you start to look at being a leader.
This website is my latest project. I can tell you
that my life isn’t perfect. In the last year, I’ve lost my job, my
home, and the one woman I have truly loved. I lost everything. This
isn’t the first time this has happened. Perhaps I just haven’t learned
the lesson I was supposed to, or maybe it’s a new lesson I was supposed
to learn. I don’t know just what the lesson was, but I can tell you
that I have learned a lot in the last year.
So now things are starting to come back together,
I have a good job, and a relatively nice place to live. 2007 was the
worst year of my life. I hope that 2008 is better. I am feeling good
about myself again, so it’s time to start something new. I’m not
suggesting that you run right out and try to start a project from
scratch, especially if you’ve never done anything before. I started 15
years ago by helping with Safety. This is the first project I’ve done
where I am completely in charge.
There are always groups and projects being done
within the Pagan Community. Find something that appeals to you, and
volunteer to help. Find something that excites you, that fires your
passion. A project that you feel strongly about is always easier to
work on than one you feel little or nothing for. Work doesn’t seem like
work, when you are doing a project that you are passionate about.
This is why I say that you must work on yourself
first. Get you to a point where things seem to be coming together. Take
responsibility for yourself. Then worry about taking on the
responsibility for other things. Only after you’ve put your own life in
order, will you be able to put order to other pursuits. This is also
true of issues in mundane life.
Now comes the hard part, putting yourself out
there for everyone else to see succeed, or fail. It doesn’t matter if
you are initiating the project, or just helping out, whatever happens
will reflect back on you. This is a scary thing, knowing that you are a
part of something that can determine how you are looked upon by your
peers, and worse, those whom you respect. If you are just helping out,
you don’t have full control of how things are done. If you are in
charge, you have control, but are you really up to the challenge?
This is the sort of thing that scares the crap out
of everyone. What happens if I fail? Can I do this? Do I really have
what it takes to succeed? What if I do succeed, can I handle everything
if this works better than my wildest dreams? People are very good at
talking themselves out of doing things. Every self help book published,
will tell you the same thing. People are afraid failing, but they are
even more afraid of success.
The people who are leaders in your local Community
were just as afraid as you are now. The difference is that they tried.
Success doesn’t just happen, it takes time and effort. No one (except
maybe Bill Gates) just goes out and starts a company for the first time
and expects it to be bigger than their wildest dreams. Most people
start small, and work their way up to bigger things. Take your time,
this is not a race.
Start by volunteering to do something you know you
can do. Volunteer to help with an already successful project, by doing
something you know you can do. It’s always intimidating to raise your
hand. If you can find something that is already working, and you are
doing what you already know, your success is almost ensured. This makes
starting out easier, but you have to be willing to do what you say you
will. If you are sincere, those who are in charge of making the
decisions will see it.
Once you can claim a little success, it gives you
the courage to try other things you haven’t done, but maybe have seen
others do. I never would have been able to run a Pagan festival with
1000 attendees that first year I was asked to help out. I started by
helping with Safety, then I ran Safety for a few years. After that I
became a coordinator of the group Safety was part of. As part of the
coordinator position, I actually ran the festival for a day. It gave me
experience, and that gave me the courage to try and run the entire
festival. Even then, I wasn’t sure I was capable by myself, so when a
friend asked if I was interested in being co-director with her, I felt
comfortable with the idea.
Taking on a leadership role, whether in a Coven,
or as part of a regional sized Pagan Festival, is all about being
comfortable with the responsibilities, and getting experience so that
you can feel comfortable. If you have the experience, you will be
comfortable. The first step is to take what you already know you can
do, and apply it. From there, you will find other opportunities to try.
Take it at your own pace, this isn’t a race.
Each success builds to another possibility. Yes,
you will fail, it’s inevitable. No one does everything well. Someone
who is very important to me has been urging me to start my own
business. I’ve never run a business before in my life, but she has. She
is very successful at everything she tries. She looks at all the
possibilities, and only when she’s comfortable with the responsibility,
and the chances of success, does she actually start the business. She
has been pounding into my head for the past year that it is better to
try and fail, than not to try at all.
You have to be comfortable with failing, in order
to succeed. Any male who is known for being successful with women will
tell you that you have to be able to handle rejection. Once you
understand that being told no, doesn’t reflect on who you are as a
person, you have the confidence to attract a pretty lady. The same
thing goes for leadership. You have to be willing to try and fail.
Others see your effort, as much as your result. As long as you really
try, you will succeed, even if your project fails. Once you realize
that failure doesn’t reflect on you as a person, you have the
confidence to succeed.
from Lead - Do Not Follow
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