The burden of leadership

I’ve heard it said that true leaders never seek the position; they answer the call when it comes. I think it was in an ethics book for some business studies I did, or perhaps it’s just something I picked up from pop culture.

Consider the ongoing theme of hero movies, or the fantasy genre which is full of hero stories. The heroes are often ordinary people raised into the spotlight by circumstance. It’s interesting to follow the story of a nobody becoming a somebody, and we care about the character if they’re at all written well.

Well let me tell you, it’s a bloody awful experience when you are the hero.

Hero stories are the short, sweet, sanitised version of a courageous life, and a courageous life is anything but short and sweet. It’s arduous, confusing, and often seems unrewarding. I feel like I’m frequently choosing a much harder road over easier ones, just because it’s the right thing to do. At any rate, I feel a strong need to live an authentic life.

I’ve heard it said, too, that leaders are born, not made.

Perhaps there is some truth in that.

Authors as leaders

At this point, some context is probably in order, so here it is. There are many paths to becoming published, most of which are significantly easier than going it alone with no industry contacts. I have no guide or writing peers, and attempts to find the latter have so far only revealed how lofty my aspirations are (and thus different). As for circumstances, I have all I want. This is an excellent situation in general but counter-productive to my goal of becoming a widely recognised author, for desperation has spurred plenty of aspiring authors into action. Finally, personality. I’m not arrogant enough to believe my writing is amazing, quite the opposite. Having innate perfectionist tendencies, I’m typically filled with self-doubt and questioning.

If mine isn’t a tale of struggling against the odds, I don’t know what is.

It took me a long time to realise this, and I’m still struggling to really own it. I suppose the silver lining is that my experience will make a fantastic story, one of these days. In the meantime, I’m doing the best I can, which is typically small, repetitive actions (such as writing) while having the knowledge that I’m making a miniscule bit of progress each time I try.

It’s not much of a hero story yet. I’m still an average Joe, except it’s astoundingly obvious that I’m not, when I look at all of my circumstances. You see, it’s true that leaders answer the call, and so they’re the first to hear it, long before anybody else knows what’s going on. When you hear about a real-life hero, it’s only ever long after their heroics have been recognised.

I feel it’s time to stop looking at others – how they write and how they got published – and admit that I’m treading my own path now, blazing a trail.