I’ll be honest: I am afraid to lead.
I don’t know many people who will say that out loud, but I’ve surely encountered my fair share of those whose behavior exhibit a fear of leadership. I can’t tell you their reasons, but this is mine.
I am good at what I do. I don’t say that in a spirit of superiority; my life is proof that I’m good. I can sing. I can act. I can write. I can teach. I can “lawyer” (I went to law school). And I do all of these things WELL: I’ve won awards and scholarships for it. People ask for me because of it. It’s my livelihood. When I unequivocally want to do something, nine times out of ten I will get it done. And whether I get it done for myself or someone else, the end result is something that is desired.
So far, my track record of accomplishments has been great. But what people forget to tell you about a 9/10 record is that ONE time–that ONE thing–can stress TF out of you. And that one thing–that one hurdle–can be ANYwhere in your path: that one thing can be the first of the ten, the last of the ten, or somewhere in the middle.
But what people forget to tell you about a 9/10 record is that ONE time–that ONE thing–can stress TF out of you.
People also forget to tell you that “10” isn’t necessarily “10 things,” but it’s really representative of “100 percent.” So that means 9/10 is really “90 percent of SOMEthing,” leaving 10 percent open to whatever mistakes or failures you accrue.
I don’t know about you, but 10% is a LOT. It is noticeable. And depending on the mistake or failure in that 10%, it can shine brighter than all of the good you’ve done previously. And it can cast a glare on any successes you have after.
The pressure to be great–to lead–hurts. For me, the pain is at times physical. I deal with anxiety and depression. There are days where I feel like I must do everything, yet I’m paralyzed to the point where I can’t do anything. There are mornings where the first thing I do is sob, and by the time I walk the 10 or so feet to my bathroom, my face is swollen and my eyes are bloodshot. There have been times when I’m at my desk, and I’m wondering why I’m about to faint: I hadn’t taken a breath in over 30 seconds.
There are days where I feel like I must do everything, yet I’m paralyzed to the point where I can’t do anything.
All because I am terrified of that 10% becoming an 11%.
I am afraid to lead, but I am more afraid of not fulfilling my purpose while I am on this side of the dirt. In the spirit of Black History Month that’s just passed and the Women’s History Month that is present, I come from a deep, proud lineage of Black mothers, aunts, teachers, sisters, lawyers, friends, nurses, doctors, cousins, laborers–all of whom have led me from either the ancestral plane in my dreams, or from a Facebook message yesterday. They remind me every day that I’ve been through worse, and therefore I am destined for better. My purpose is not a profession; rather, it’s simply to pay it forward.
“It” can be my time. “It” can be my wisdom. “It” can be my joy. “It” can be my patience.
Whatever “it” is, it can be scary to give, because I run the risk of increasing my percentage of failures and mistakes. But I know that even when I fail–even when I make a mistake–I can lead someone away from doing the same thing. I can guide them into doing something better. Into BEING someONE better.
So I would rather fail than waste my time.
So yes, I am afraid to lead. I am afraid to lead because I am afraid of failing. But my fear of wasting my time and merely existing is more crippling than my fear of failure. So I would rather fail than waste my time. I would rather teach someone using my mistakes than just exist and watch life pass me by.
I’ll be honest: I would rather lead.