Most leaders are accidental leaders. We can be happily traveling along the transparent flow of our lives, and suddenly life interrupts our journey with something that we must attend to. If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we have little choice, but to respond, not for lack of other options, but because of who we are. I am reminded of Maya Angelo saying, “Sometimes you need to get defeated to know who the hell you are.” Defeat is often the birthing place of great leaders.
When life calls us to get back up and take our stand, we tend not to step up to it, but rather, we get hurled into it. You’ll know you are being called to lead, because an upwelling from deep inside your bones will not rest until you stand up and declare your future. It’s an utterance that refuses to be suppressed, simple, but not trivial (another nod to Bob Dunham).
Think of Nelson Mandela articulating a vision for a democratic and free society from prison, inspiring a movement that would transform a nation. Think of Mother Teresa reminding us to ‘Spread love everywhere we go’ from the streets of Calcutta. Think of Bob Dylan, whose songs like “Blowing in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin” inspire people all over the world to challenge our main stream common sense worldview about power, and transcend historical political discourses. Each of these voices were born out of culminations of light and dark, victory and defeat, success and accidents. This how life seems to call forth leadership and ignite our flame.
Now let’s take a look at your leadership journey. Which “accidents” have ignited your flame?