Find the Support You’ve Secretly Longed For

If you’ve ever seen the video “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy,” you know how important it is to have a leadership wingman (wing person?).

If you haven’t seen it, here are “the lessons”:

  1. Be public. Be easy to follow!
  2. There is no movement without the first follower.
  3. The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
  4. When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

Being the “lone nut” can be rough on a person. Maybe you lose yourself in the dance for awhile, but eventually you can’t help but notice you’re out there all alone, and you may start to question the value of your nuttiness.

Every successful “lone nut” I’ve known can communicate well (be easy to follow!), but they do a couple of other things that are not so visible:

One, they build support behind the scenes.

Building support behind the scenes is about building your home base, a place that nurtures you, with activities that enable your recovery. The colors, (lack of) clutter, furniture, and habits associated with this place are life-giving.

When you’ve built your self-support behind the scenes, you can give give give when you’re out there, being visible. But when you are home, you rebuild yourself.

Examples of what a person might find in a home base that supports you include high-nutrition (but not high-calorie) homemade meals, tea, clutter-free spaces, beautiful paintings, and soothing sounds.

If your home base is cluttered, carb-loaded, and Netflix-oriented, you have built a cocoon, not a sanctuary. A cocoon can protect you from new attacks, but it will not help you actually recover from the last one.

(Note: I offer this noticing from my own personal experience of both states, as well as the data I’ve collected from clients.)

Two, they know how to work with the inner voice of criticism.

Most of us carry within ourselves an inner voice of criticism. It serves us because it helps us to notice when our performance is not up to snuff, and we will make efforts to improve.

However, that inner voice of criticism stops serving us when it continues to criticize after the improvements have been made.

I have noticed that when my inner voice of criticism flies unchecked — when it’s busy telling me about everything in me, in others, and in my circumstances is wrong or bad or insufficient — I begin to slow down and withdraw.

When I withdraw, I pull into the protective but not-nurturing cocoon I described above. I come out slightly less frazzled, but not healed.

When I notice that the inner voice of criticism is running things, though, I can engage with practices that help me to sort out what will serve me, what is aligned with my values, and what I can just set aside.

These practices include meditation, straightening up, getting exercise, limiting caloric intake, talking through difficulties with an empathetic listening friend, and sleeping on a pretty regular schedule.

If you do all of this, even as a “lone nut,” your first follower won’t get scared off–and then your leadership will really take flight!

What about you? What helps you to really recover from high-visibility, low-support days? Leave me a comment below!

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