Being a leader means your life and activity are no longer about yourself.
A “leader" means life offers you a higher perch than other people have. If you sit on a higher perch and don’t see any better than others, you will become an object of ridicule. People will look up to you only if you have an insight into situations and problems, and an insight into possible solutions. You are not a superman, but people expect you to be one. So if you don’t have a better insight than the people who are looking up to you, you will become a ridiculous fool.
Usually, people understand leadership as a position of power. But those leaders who were truly successful and loved by people lived in a position of continuous sacrifice, because a leader means your life and activity are no longer about yourself. Every thought and emotion that you generate, every action that you perform has an impact on millions of people. It is a certain privilege and a responsibility, that you can touch the lives of people around you in many ways.
When I say a “leader," I am not just talking about the leader of a nation or large group of people. From a simple housewife to a grocer to a panchayat leader to a taxi driver, anyone can be a leader because anyone who comes in contact with 10 people in a day can either impact them powerfully or let the opportunity pass. People will choose the scale of leadership according to their capabilities, but everyone is a leader in some way. If you have chosen to take at least your own destiny into your own hands, aren’t you a leader? Only if you are a hobo, you are not a leader.
It happened once. An American tourist was visiting the UK. A local person who was taking him around showed him an estate and said, “Here lives an aristocrat." The American asked, “What is that?" The Englishman was surprised there could be someone who didn’t know what an aristocrat was. “An aristocrat means he doesn’t have to do any work. Everything comes to him one way or the other. He always has a good place somewhere. Wherever he goes he has a ringside seat and he does nothing, he lives off other people." The American responded, “Oh, that! In America we call them hobos." So, unless you’re a hobo, in some capacity you are a leader. Once you understand you are a leader, it means either you have taken your own destiny into your hands or you have also taken the destiny of a few more lives into your hands. This is a certain responsibility.
If you want to lead any group of people and want everyone to function at their best, first you must make sure all of them fall in love with you. If you want everyone to fall in love with you, first you must fall in love with all of them. This is not a trick—“If I fall in love with you, you will fall in love with me, then you will work better for me." The moment you do that, no one will cooperate. If you genuinely fall in love with everyone around you, slowly everyone falls in love with you. Different people may take different amounts of time but slowly, they will give in. Once they are in love with you, they will naturally do their best.
Here at Isha Foundation, we have an organization with over two million volunteers across the world, doing their best all the time. This is not because we are a spiritual organization; this can even be done to a whole nation. In any organization, if the person who stands there is an inspiration to everyone, leadership will happen without uttering a word.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is the founder of Isha Foundation.
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