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Leadership Journey 01: The Realization

Here’s a quick intro to this series because I know you’re here to start your journey to see why you’re already a leader. Over the past decade, i’ve been slowly molded to be a leader. Opportunities presented itself left and right. Introductions were made with the right people at the right time. People showered me their time and wisdom. People believed in me. And I showed that their time was worth the sacrifice. I’ve given multiple speeches where afterwards, many have told me they have been inspired. Peers have often looked towards me for guidance and direction. I have been that point person where people do turn towards and rely on. But I try to be a very modest person and I am not comfortable telling people that I am a leader. Even after the past 4 years, when a lot of my impactful work happened, I still don’t want to proclaim myself as a leader. Just a few days ago, I was conversing with one of my really good friends about something and he told me “Francis, you really are a leader.” What he said was enough for me to take action. It is time for me to share the qualities, values, and traits I have learned that leaders need.

photo by Rj Javier.
Everything really do happen for a reason, it’s ultimately up to us to give it meaning.

Every single choices you have made in life have lead you to this article. Sure, you may now be making excuses to why you found yourself clicking this post, but you are here. You are here because I am here to say that I believe in you and that you are a leader.

In my experience, realizing that I am a leader was the first big step in starting my journey. I have always been a shy child. My family moved to the USA from Asia when I was just 6. We didn’t speak the language and we didn’t know anything about the people who lived in the States. I never wanted to answer questions in class because I was afraid of the “why?” I was afraid that speaking up would lead my teacher to encourage me to speak more. With my limited English, I knew I would be embarrassed if I couldn’t answer fluently. Growing up, I didn’t want to put myself in the position to lead groups or to collaborate with others mainly because of this fear. With this stuck in my head, my mentality taught me to be a follower and to not grab the spotlight.

Fear wasn’t my only stopping force. It was the responsibilities and accountability that comes with the role. Isn’t it just overwhelming when you know the success of one thing depends on you? It is and that feeling sucks. It also sucks when you become “volunteered” to lead a group of peers whose main reasons for existing is to bring you down. (that’s a joke by the way.) Maybe this is why so many people refuse to step up to the challenge. I know for sure when the opportunity comes up, I always think about the amount of responsibilities and accountability I would have to carry.

But there is that one moment in every leader where things changed. It’s where the rising action meets the climax. Its that point in a movie where everything suddenly goes the way the hero needs it go. Its that cathartic feeling when you finally figure out the right composition to your perfect recipe.

Because the beginning of your leadership journey is your decision to step off the cliff and fall. You say whatever you need to say, but you have to take that step off your comfort zone. You have to realize that you are a leader and be willing to walk past everything holding you back. Past the fears. Past the heavy responsibilities. You can’t look back. Never look back. Because that first step means there is no turning back. I took that first step because I was tired of people who chose to be lazy instead of stepping up. Even if the role didn’t ask for much, I saw so many people that I admired refuse to lead. You may have had this point in your life already. But one thing I never knew at that point in my life was that I chose to be a leader at that moment. And that was how I started my journey without even knowing what have occurred.

Every single person is born capable of leading. My family never thought we’d move to America, but yet here we are. I’ve always feared my accent would prevent people from understanding me. But my voice and the messages it carried have been heard by at least a thousand ears. I never thought it would be me on that podium or the person people would rely on, but all of it has already happened. Take this first step if you haven’t already. If you have already stepped off your home base, let me reaffirm that you are a leader. And finally, I believe in you.