First Followers

If you ever wander past my office, you may notice a whiteboard, which displays the events that took place on this particular day in history.

Today, for example, May 2nd was the day da Vinci died. It’s also the day Lou Gehrig took a day off; the day that Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair were first elected to lead their respective countries, and 400 years ago, it was the day that King James published his distinctive version of the Bible.

A little background on this: King James was trying to be something of a peacemaker between the Puritans and the Anglicans, and he hoped that coming up with a new edition of the Holy Book might mend some theological fences. (It didn’t.)

47 scholars worked for 7 years (Think of this as a massive, collective “Extended Essay”) as they translated the Hebrew from the Old Testament and the Greek from the New Testament. The result is the King James Bible, the Bible that has been used for 4 centuries at solemn occasions such as last Friday’s royal wedding.

(An aside: Even though I am an American, I happily tuned in to Friday’s wedding because I am completely sympatico with any guy who is losing his hair, sits on a throne, and has a job that’s largely ceremonial in nature. William is clearly my kind of prince!)

You don’t need to be at all religious to have an appreciation for the King James Bible. If you have an interest in language, you can hear the difference between the ordinary prose of the Good News Bible (“You were made of soil, and you will become soil again.”  Ug!) and the majestic, almost exalted flow of the King James version, (“For dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return.”)

But let me return to the whiteboard for just a second. With Tony Blair, and Nelson Mandela, and today’s national election, this is a big day for leaders, and leadership is a something we talk about quite a bit at UCC.

I recently came across a 3 minute TED talk on leadership, and I’d like you to take a look at it. I apologize for this being very Californian, but I will say that if you are going to the Year 2 dance next weekend, you might want to pay special attention to some of the sweet moves on display here. <>

You’ve already got your TED take-aways for today, so I’ll leave you with just one example of how this approach to leadership and followership plays out right here at UCC:

Last summer Connor Taylor came up with the idea of “The Blue Army” (think of him as doing the Blue Army “happy dance” all by himself at first). What Connor did so well was that he welcomed Chris Griffiths, his “first followers” as an equal.

Kudos to Conor because he had the idea and the initiative.
And Kudos, too, to Chris because he transformed a lone nut into a leader.

Finally, whether it is the Blues Booster Club, the Gay Straight Alliance, the Random Acts of of Kindness or Heroes Club, whether  is the Blue Army or  the “It Gets Better”  movement, we should not only honour those who stick their necks out to start an initiative, but we should also recognize the importance of all of those first followers who help make dreams a reality.


One thought on “First Followers

  1. Leadership is ‘By Example’ (a founding principle of the Culver Military Academy in Indiana) and, as any good hockey coach knows, if you want to find the true leaders of any team go to the back of the bus.

    From Johnson and Harper’s (2005) Leading the Annapolis Way: ““no organization succeeds without outstanding followers and no one rises to lead effectively without first learning to follow.”

    We all need those outstanding followers as much as we need an inspirational leader.

    Thank you for this post paying tribute to the leadership displayed by followers.

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