The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

August 20, 2013

Leaders versus followers

Are you a leader or a follower? Think about it.

Remember the game Follow the Leader we played when children? It was so fun, especially when the leader did strange things or went through narrow paths or something different. Well, the  game of life is a lot like that.

We have to be one or the other. Sometimes we have to lead and sometimes we have to follow. Both are great training.

For many years, I was a follower of Grandma and Mother and aunts to learn to cook, do housework, sew and many other duties that make a  home run smoothly. I learned every step of cooking from  kneading, peeling, stirring, measuring and everything. I cleaned up until the world looked level. No matter what we were cooking or preparing, I loved it and everything that went with it. I was an apprentice, a novice, a follower. I learned by doing and by being shown over and over and over, and by careful observation.

Even though I cook quite a bit now, I still like to learn new things from others. They become the leader and I become the follower.

Just this week, I got a pickle recipe using alum. It was different than the usual lime pickles I make every year. The taste is much the same, but the process and the time required is very different.

Even though I may stick to what I know and can do from memory, it was fun to make a few of the new kind.

Few people are born leaders. Most  have to be carefully taught. We learn by trial and error and by making a few mistakes along the way of what works and what doesn’t. In most any group, a natural leader will eventually come to the surface like cream on milk.  

Those who are natural leaders find it very difficult to just sit by idly in a group and see nothing being done and a lack of order. It is the instinct of a leader to “take over” and start organizing and assigning jobs and making decisions about what needs to be tackled first.

Followers find it difficult to make a decision, and will calmly sit for hours waiting for someone to tell them what to do — and how to do it — and when to start.

Leaders have to be great motivators and  the queen that inspires the worker bees. Part of being a leader is having the ability to say “no” and “go.” We need to do what can be done and what should be done, and learn to listen and accept criticism and occasional defeat. Things will go much better and more work gets done if we work as a team.

Grandpa used to tell the story of an ox wagon that came by their house, and one of the oxen had died. The driver asked to buy a white-faced bull to pull the freight wagon with his oxen on the yoke. Grandpa said none of his animals were broken to a yoke.

The man purchased a bull from Grandpa anyway, and hitched him up and went on his way with the newest half of the team pulling aside and having no idea what to do.

Months later, when the wagon came back through the country, both animals were pulling equally, sharing half of the weight load. They had learned to be a team, with no leader and no follower. They were both leaders!

In good marriages, there are no leaders and no followers — just a hard-working team. We have heard the story of the man being the head of the house, but the wife is the neck and helps him turn. I feel that both partners have to work together and act  together for a successful, happy marriage.   

When I was growing up, my older sister had a lot of responsibility in taking care of the younger kids in the family, when Mother was busy sewing or picking berries or canning.

It was a sort of leadership role, and we were expected to follow her lead as if Mother or Daddy were present. It was good training in following instructions and learning how to be a leader to the siblings younger than us. No one questioned authority.

Now we see families where even the parents don’t seem to be in charge. Everybody just does his or her own thing.

How sad that some people don’t get to experience that leadership/follower role, and learn a good lesson in living and co-operation.

With obligation, observation, organization  and motivation, most anyone can become a leader.

There is an old saying: Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Today, I share with you two recipes that a friend of mine served at a luncheon. She is certainly a leader when it comes to being a hostess and knowing just what everyone will enjoy. Here is her delicious bread:

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