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  • David Strittmatter

Exercise leadership whenever you can

A boss has the title, a leader has the people

Dear Friend,

Thank you for returning to another issue of my weekly learning newsletter. I am currently on a road trip (Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Desert, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley...) and so far this has been the most impressive experience of my life. It's crazy what Mother Nature is capable of and how indescribably beautiful life can be. Apart from my personal relationships with my friends and family, nothing has been more pleasant than that. I highly recommend the Antelope Canyon in case you are in Arizona or close to it. 

Practice leadership whenever you can

While traveling with some friends, I made a pretty interesting observation: Most of the time the people around you have no clear plan of what to do next and how to do it. In our daily lives, most of us are not used to having a detailed "plan" or "procedure" for what to do next. In fact, we most likely stick to our habits, to what we are used to, or to people who take the lead. I have seen the same in situations where we are confronted with unexpected problems as well as in situations where we are confronted with unexpected problems.

Imagine following scenario: Driving with your friends to an unknown destination, such as a national park in the USA you have never been to yet. Before that, your group has created a plan to be prepared for the trip. Then suddenly something unplanned happens (too little fuel after the visit or you get very hungry and want to go out for dinner instead of cooking something in your Airbnb late at night). No one now has a detailed plan. In such situations - as already mentioned - we go by habits / the known or people who take the lead. For example, to satisfy your hunger, you go to Burger King or McDonald's, because that's the most common, instead of going to an unknown restaurant. In another setting, though, there might be a person who has a great idea where to eat instead. This person is able to convince others and persuade the group to go to a diner highly recommended on TripAdvisor instead of going to the usual food place. 

In the first case no one takes the lead, while in the second case one person leads the group. These situations are very common in our lives. It often happens that a person in a group has a good idea and convinces the group to stick to it. Most of the time we are very happy about that. People generally like to be led by a person with whom they have a good connection. 

It is not even required to have a great idea or solution for the problem your group is facing. On the contrary, the people around you usually have great ideas and solutions, but are usually not able or willing to express themselves. And that's a real problem. Just because there is no lead, a lot of time is spent on what is already known, and most of the time it is mediocre instead of a big experience. Whether it's the usual fast food restaurant instead of the diner or driving to the nearest gas station instead of asking someone on the street for a cheaper alternative and driving a few miles more to save money. 

And this is your chance: Whenever you are in a group and there is a situation where you tend to do what is usual and customary, take the lead, encourage your group to make the most of the situation and take a few minutes to brainstorm, ask people questions, search the internet etc. to find a better solution than the easiest one.

This is your opportunity to practice leadership, help your friends and people around you achieve more than average. I firmly believe that these situations can help you grow substantially in the long run if you use leadership whenever you can.  Every leader once started small. Whether Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. or even Greta Thunberg, who started with a few students from her school and now mobilizes a large number of people for her interests. Start today and be great tomorrow.

This was the learning of last week. Wish you a great week and see you soon.

All the best to you and yours, David

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