To Be A Leader or Follower At Work

May 17, 2017 / Day Job & the Practical / how to be creative

Look, everyone wants to be a leader at work. I get it. You want to be recognized as someone who is forward thinking, dynamic, and in charge. But the thing is there are only several spots in that corporate ladder. Do you really want to do strive for that? Is it really what you want?

The 80/20 Rule

Do you know the Pareto rule, also known as the 80/20 rule? 80% of our activities gives us 20% of the satisfaction, while 20% gives us 80% of the satisfaction. That’s how it is with work. I’m at work 80% of the time in a given week, but I only derive 20% of my satisfaction from it. I was searching for the the 20% activity that would give 80% of the satisfaction.

That searching is central to my artwork, A Million Suns. For years, that’s what I asked myself: should I go this way or that way? What was that 20% activity?

One thing was clear though. I didn’t want to climb any corporate ladder.

Do You Really Want to Be A Leader?

To be a leader is great. You get to express a grand vision that everybody then works towards. But to be a leader you have to work a lot. That 80% will probably be 95%. And I just didn’t want to do that - see the Pareto rule above. I already knew, deep down, that I would be putting that ladder against the wrong wall.

It’s a rare combination where your day job coincides with what you really want to do - those are the people that should be leaders at work.

So instead of being a leader, I became a follower instead.

What is a Follower

A follower is a team player. A follower collaborates to get things done, doesn’t take over projects, or be the face of a large initiative. A follower works behind the scenes.

I’m not advocating being deadwood at work either. You recognize those people. No, what I’m saying is to lend your talents to a leader.

Be a follower at work; But Put Your Artist Hat on

Here’s the thing, we should be followers at work, but be a follower who contributes using the artist mindset (the topic of this blog). This automatically gives your contributions an aura of creativity. Put your artist mindset at work. That’s how you become an invaluable team player, by thinking like an artist at work.

Then Be A Leader of Your Life

What do you want to do? Write a book, paint, photograph? Be a leader there.

There’s only so much mental power you can do everyday, so do the most important thing first before you get to work. For example, I write during my train commute on the way to work. That’s the most important task of the day for me. When I arrive at work, I already know I accomplished my personal goal. Everything else is extraneous. So even if work blows up, as it frequently does, I’m not stressed, because I already accomplished the most important thing for the day.

It’s harder of course, if what’s important to you is not portable (like writing on the train). I can’t very well do a photo-shoot every day. That takes a lot of preparation and equipment. But I devote Saturday morning as my studio time for creating pictures. And that’s very important to me.

So put that ladder against a different wall. Your wall.

Don’t you think that is better?

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