Have you ever tried to walk in someone else’s footsteps — literally?
Whether in sand or snow, your careful attempts to place your foot in the exact same spot as another’s is an optimistic effort at best. Whether the space is too large or small, or at a different angle or stride, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish a perfect fit in the vacant imprint left behind from another’s journey.
And in my opinion, it’s a blessing in disguise
Why Following The Leader Will Get You Nowhere
Do you lead, follow, or get out of the way? There’s another option — step out of line!
That’s what makes the phrase “following in someone’s footsteps” more than a little misleading. Because it infers the need to become an exact duplicate — a mini-clone — of someone else and their individual level of achievement.
Here’s the point: It’s important to have mentors we can learn from — people who provide guidance and suggestions that influence our values, beliefs, and behavior. As evolving humans, we need to continue expanding our awareness and understanding — especially if our goal is to improve ourselves and the world we live in.
Because while we’re all on a very personal and unique journey, we can always use a little guidance and confidence that can only come from those who have traveled before us — successfully. So we try to become better, stronger, and happier by following in the footsteps of those whose path motivates and inspires us.
While we may think we’re on similar roads — even the exact same path as those we seek to emulate — there will always be choices we must make along the way. These are the challenges and hurdles of life. And how we respond to them creates our own unique reality.
That’s when we begin to ask ourselves questions about our personal journey — and our destination.
Should I quicken my pace or slow down?
Is this the only opportunity I’ll have to make a choice? What if it’s not the right one?
Am I headed in the wrong direction — what if the footprints suddenly disappear?
What if my decisions don’t bring the results, benefits, or advantages I was promised?
Should I stop now, keep going, or turn around and find a better way?
There are as many answers to these questions as there are individuals seeking counsel and advice. As a result, we can’t always rely on the footprints of others to lead us in a positive direction.
Evidence — real or imagined — of the alleged success and achievements of others isn’t necessarily truth-in-action. And the belief that loyalty and allegiance to a specific individual, group, or methodology will bring you fulfillment, success, or satisfaction is a dangerous assumption.
In the worst case, an unqualified commitment to a singular person or ideology can blind us to the real agenda of an unyielding master, especially when the message is laced with ego, empty rhetoric, and false promises meant to tantalize — even hypnotize — the masses.
So the next time you sense an inkling of doubt, a bit of uncertainty, or even fear in the message from one of your mentors, ask yourself if you’ve inadvertently been led down a path you had no intention of following.
Consider the consequences of continuing to listen to those who preach a dubious, even suspicious message. If their footsteps no longer lead in a direction you want to go, take the initiative by using your instinct and personal values to think for yourself and choose another route.
Making the choice of who to follow is a personal one
It’s important to consider the positive and self-less examples that have influenced you through experience, education, and awareness. Then be sure your decisions are made without leaning on addictive, seductive whispers intended to persuade you.
Do your very best to become a person worth following — because you acted with truth and honor and trust.
The best mentors are those who leave a legacy of integrity and authenticity — and encourage others to do the same. — Jill Reid
© 2020 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.
Jill Reid is the founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and author of Real Life . Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies.