One of the things you’ll notice if you start to study successful people is that they are leaders. They go their own way. They sometimes take risks that others see as foolish. And in the process they achieve success.

If you want to be successful, there will come a time when you will have to make a break from the crowd. The masses of humanity are shuffling their way to mediocrity. But you are destined for something more.

It may not even seem big to you at fist. But that initial turn from the herd is vastly significant.

And it will be uncomfortable, especially at first. Staying in the crowd feels safe. It feels right. But the truth is achievers are leaders.They make their own calls and squarely face the consequences of their actions.

I’ve heard it said that the way to tell if you are a leader or not is to look and see who is following you. If there is no one following, that line of reasoning goes, then by definition you are not leading.

I think that is only partly true.

The reality is, if you want to be successful, the very first person you have to lead is yourself. And some of us are so screwed up, so used to following along our paths of mediocrity, that it is going to take some time leading ourselves before we are ready to take on the responsibility for leading others as well.

My Gorgeous Wife kids me that I’m the only guy she knows that has two copies of Lincoln on Leadership. I’ve been studying leadership and all that it entails with an eye on my own personal success for decades now. Some folks probably think I’m a little strange that way (and those folks are mostly deep in the herd, by the way) but I know it takes time and committed effort to become successful.

Watchman Nee once said that he felt it takes an average of about 14 years to develop a successful Christian leader.

I remember hearing an interview with Huey Lewis not long after his band’s album Sports hit number 1 on the charts. The interviewer asked him something about how it felt to be an overnight success. Huey stopped the interview short and said something about getting tired of being asked that question because their band spent 15 years playing in smoky bars for hardly any money over that one night.

I’m sure there were some folks in the herd who would ask him during those years, “Huey, what are you doing? Don’t you realize how few bands ever make it on the charts? Why don’t you give it up already and get real jobs?”

But they chose to walk their own path. By doing so they showed themselves to be leaders and made it all the way to number 1. That seems pretty successful to me.

Another 80s band, Rush have a song with the lyric, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” And that is true. If you are going to be successful, you will have to be a leader make your own choices. Otherwise you will be a follower letting others make your choices for you and stay stuck on that mediocre path.

Make a stand today. Take a step toward that success you were destined for. Become a leader. Start by leading yourself.

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