Have you ever heard of that quote before? When I was 17, I enlisted in the US Air Force and every morning I would march past a sign on a lawn that had the words, “Lead, follow or get out of the way”. I never really understood that quote, but couldn’t get it out my head because I would pass that sign everyday. As time passed and 20 years later, that same quote stuck to my mind, but never took the time to really look it up, because I never thought that it was a quote. As time went on, I learned what that quote meant by living life and only recently had I looked it up online to find the originator of that quote. The quote was originally from Thomas Paine. I am sure he had a meaning behind his quote, but let me share what that quote meant to me and how I interpreted it as I gone through life.
In life there are leaders or at times it is you who must take the role of leader. This has nothing to do with a title or given role at work, but there are many situations in your personal life as well as your professional life where you must take the lead. When you take the lead, you use your informal and informal leadership skills to set the vision and strive towards a goal. With Thomas Paine’s quote, I interpreted lead as the role you choose to take in situations, you could either take the lead or be a follower. If you are to lead, then be sure you know that is the role you have and it comes with responsibilities as those who are following you take your lead to strive towards a common goal.
Another option in life is to follow the leader. Nothing is wrong with being a follower, and if this is your role in a situation, being a good follower is just as important as being the leader. As a follower, you play an important role to implement the tactics of the leader. We cannot always be the leader in all situations and at times we must take the role of the follower for things to happen. I have heard many times that to be a great leader you must also be able to be a great follower. The way I interpret this is that you gain leadership skills and traits by being a follower and being in the shoes of those you might lead in the future. Without an understanding of those you lead, you will never be able to gain the respect or understanding of those who follow you.
GET OUT OF THE WAY
In life, there are leaders and followers as well as those who just seem to get in the way. People who get in the way choose not to lead or to follow but slow the progress of a group that is striving towards a goal. For this quote, it gives you the three roles to choose from, leader, follower and if you are not part of the two, get out of the way to let them do their thing. Why waste time getting in the way, unless you are a leader or follower of an opposing side, make way and yield to let others strive towards their goal.
This quote has been branded into my heart and the way I learned it was through living life and observing the roles that individuals, as well as myself play. Recognize what role you play and be aware that if you not leading or following, GET OUT OF THE WAY!