I saw this talk and found it incredibly accessible, interesting, and thought-provoking. A favorite line: “Purpose is an anchor we throw out into the future.” Meaning-making is a key component to what it means to live a good life; Dr. Steger does a great job exploring this topic and tying in both his research and his own (often hilarious) personal experiences. Steger also provides helpful action steps on how to learn to make more meaning in your life.
What makes life feel meaningful for you?
I heard about a new study on NPR this morning about what differentiates leaders from “followers.” I think these terms are also far too black and white; leaders and followers exist on a continuum. I have always been interested in what makes a leader lead and a follower follow. In high school, I was definitely a follower. I lacked confidence in my abilities across a number of areas. Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps because I was simply a teenager. It might also be due to the school I attended; I was surrounded by very intelligent people (and generally people on the aggressive, competitive side). I am not aggressive and I would typically rather follow than fight to be a leader over small issues.
The summer after my freshman year of college, I was lucky enough to be accepted into a summer program focused on Ethics and Servant Leadership. During the program we had the chance to learn more about want it means to be a servant-leader; this completely changed my perspective on what and who a leader is. A leader can be strong, opinionated, and empathetic without being aggressive. This reframe shifted my mindset, now I want to lead because I value my opinions and know I can express them with confidence while having a conversation around what is best for a group or organization.
So what about this NPR story? Well the study covered in the story found that leaders are those who are willing to make decisions for a group in the same way that they make their own personal decisions. These people trust their logic, instinct, and are willing to accept responsibility for a group outcome. “Followers” typically struggle with responsibility aversion. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are necessarily authoritarian, leaders often reach consensus with a group and then take responsibility for that choice.
At a time when we have such scary models of what it means to be a leader, it’s important that we think about what makes a leader and how we can train people to learn to lead well. Being a leader does not make you pushy, arrogant, or bossy–it means you are willing to take a risk, often for others, and take responsibility for your (or your group’s) actions.
What does leadership mean to you? Do you consider yourself to be a leader?
Micah G. Edelson, Rafael Polania, Christian C. Ruff, Ernst Fehr and Todd A. Hare. Computational and neurobiological foundations of leadership decisions. Science: August 2, 2018. DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0036
I talk about this ALL the time–to the point where it might be obnoxious if I’m being honest here. We all have the same number of hours each day. While it might not feel that way, we make the decisions of how we spend our time. If you want to do something, something else might have to be cancelled or pushed off. It’s all about priorities and boundaries.
What do you prioritize in your life?