Lead In Your Own Way

If you look around and do not see a leader, it is you.

My grandfather used to tell me a story about a study that he had read about. It represented what he liked to refer to as an object lesson. This particular story, and its subsequent lesson, was about leadership.

Researchers put ten strangers in a room and gave them a task to complete. After some back and forth chatter, one of the strangers took the lead, began strategizing with the others, brainstorming a course of action, and delegating tasks. Together, they completed the project.

Once the project was complete, the researchers removed the stranger who took the lead on the project from the room and gave the remaining nine participants another task to complete. Once again, after some back and forth discussion, one of the strangers took the lead, began strategizing with the others, brainstorming a course of action, and delegating tasks until the group completed the project together. This was done over and over again until only two people were left, always with the same or similar results.

The point of this anecdote, my grandfather explained to me, was that leadership is not a trait someone is born with, but a role that one willingly steps into out of necessity when others will not. There may be people who have more capacity and charisma for it than others, but, leadership can be taught and it can be learned or even improvised. And, within each of us is the potential to be a leader in our own unique way.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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