The right time to lead


…never feels like it.

The people are not yet organized. The systems are not set up. It has not yet been done yet. People are not yet ready for it. You don’t feel ready for it. The issue is not being given enough funding. People are not yet taking enough initiative or thinking big enough.

I assume this is how things felt when Fati Abubakar picked up a camera and started photographing her hometown which had been hit hard by terrorists, creating richer and more empowering narratives to counter the depressing narratives.

I assume it is how things felt when the first bus boycott was organized, in response to racial discrimination in the United States.

When is the right time and how will you know? Will you see a sign in the stars? Will you feel it? Will you be so full of passion and confidence?

I have been thinking of this with all the recent developments in the States since the elections. The fear and the anger everywhere gets overwhelming. I want to watch news updates but it is too much. Even the satirical renditions of what is going on in the States get boring because it is about the same thing over and over again. I want to be aware without being despondent, and I believe that self-care matters too.

I believe that as human beings, if only for our sanity, we always have the invitation to respond and not just react. My interview with Cara Biasucci comes to mind where she talks about engaging with social issues thoughtfully. Sometimes responding will mean cutting off the cycle of fear and depression and turning off the news, and instead soaking in the bath. It can mean educating yourself. Another time it may mean sharing information. Another time it may mean creating alternatives for people who will be marginalized by decisions. It may mean being excellent. Or it may just mean continuing to care for your own circle of influence, your community, in those most impactful yet simple ways.

I think being able to respond rather than react is what makes us leaders, or should I say good leaders. A leader needs to take responsibility in the situation because if all you are doing is being carried away by your context then how will you take control of the narrative? A leader needs to think about the issue not just in the heat of the moment, or just in conformity with group think but as an empowered responsible human being.

What really creates the change you want and what is your role in seeing it happen? Of the different ways to respond, which one is the best fit for your personality and your experience? What will give you the most gains? What is in line with the best practices? What will attack the issue at the root of it? Who are the critical stakeholders or the gate-keepers? Where are the gaps or the openings you can capitalize on? Simultaneously, one needs to be aware of their own inner state because it affects our response to issues.

Thinking is key, because while we can be earnest and mean well, we cannot truly act thoughtfully or achieve strategic gains without thinking. When we really think, we will find avenues to be able to respond and not react. You and I can always take back our power, think critically and reflectively and then take initiative, however small. This is what makes us leaders.  It the right time to lead once we decide to get to work.

I wrote a journal to support you (and myself) in courageously sharing our gifts. Consider getting it by clicking here. I hope you will find it valuable.
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