Peggy Goodrich (column mug)ENE

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

I have a friend who often says, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Anyone who works in a job or volunteers learns that real soon. The leaders take charge, while the helpers follow their lead. It is not wrong to be the follower as we can’t all be the boss. Some of us have to be workers and helpers. We can be a leader in one area and a follower in another and that is OK. We are doing something for the good of mankind.

Remember the game we played when a child of Follow the Leader? 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.

Several years ago 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/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 cooperation.

With obligation, observation, organization and motivation, most anyone can become a leader. One can be a leader without being bossy. One can be a follower without being grouchy. I think a leader is simply the teacher and we followers are learning everything we can so that someday we will be a leader.

I have a tendency to be the leader (boss). I am too impatient to simply wait for someone to do something. I like organization and doing things efficiently. If something doesn’t work, try something else but get the job done. Use judgment. Make executive decisions if necessary. Just “git er done.” Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, just pleasant. Everyone can do something!

Today I share with you a bread recipe that a friend served at a luncheon. She is certainly a leader when it comes to being a hostess and knowing just what everyone will enjoy.

Banana/Nut Bread

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Chopped pecans

3 eggs, beaten

1½ cups vegetable oil

2 cups mashed bananas

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (save juice for glaze)

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Mix liquids and add to dry ingredients. Stir until batter is moist. Pour into two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Bake one hour and five minutes at 350 degrees. Make glaze with powdered sugar and enough of the pineapple juice to right consistency. Pour over warm cake in pan. Allow to cool somewhat and remove from pan to completely cool. Slice thick and enjoy.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food for Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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Goodrich writes a weekly column for the Enid News & Eagle. Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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