As I grow older, I realize that there are going to be times when my personal conviction doesn’t mesh with what everyone else expects from me. Pop culture tells us over and over again that we need to have a lot of money, look pretty and conform in order to be accepted. I want to be accepted, but I don’t want to have to adopt criteria that someone else has drafted in order to gain a stamp of approval.
Yes, the refusal to do what everyone expects from me or what’s popular makes life a lot more challenging to me, and it creates roadblocks towards what I want. And yes, I often contemplate whether or not I should give in, but then I’m inspired by the lives of people who chose to walk the path of resistance and somehow convince others to follow them.
I’m reminded of something that I say to the kids I work with. There are always those troublemakers who want to push buttons and test my limits. I used to use threats like “I’ll call your mom” or “I know your father,” and I realized that never worked. I looked more like a tattle-tale than an authority figure. It dawned on me that I wanted these kids to respect all authority figures, myself included, so rather than responding with “I’m telling,” I started saying, “Be a leader.” I was amazed at how they responded. They wanted to be responsible. They wanted an opportunity to show their peers how to act. They wanted an adult to place high expectations on them. They liked being at the front of the crowd–that’s why they were asking for attention through acting up. Those troublemakers are the ones who CAN lead.
While the concept is different from expectations to conform, the mantra is just as powerful. When people expect one thing of you that you don’t necessarily agree with, change the tide and “Be A Leader.”