Leaders are not what many people think–people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. The include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly. This is the opposite of the “charisma” that we hear so much about.
I found the quote above over on Caterina Fake’s blog, which was taken from a book about homeschooling by John Holt. In her post she writes about who and what inspires her, and how varied the forms are. I found the quote quite interesting because I feel like it defines not only how I see myself, but also how I see the people I look up to.
Oftentimes I have people write and ask me for tips on blogging or being a designer, and I think what John says in the paragraph above is a perfect way to guide your thoughts. After writing this blog for four years, I know that what people appreciate most is my unique voice and my honesty. I know that I’m not the best writer out there, but that doesn’t matter because my passion and enthusiasm counts for so much more. Having a strong opinion and being honest is the other thing I find to be a key to the sites success. A lot of blogs these days just repost content and there’s no voice behind the content, but what’s the point of that?
The people I look up to the most have a unique point of view that’s unlike any out there. When I get up in the morning I read three blogs: Daring Fireball, Kottke and You Might Find Yourself. A blog about Apple & technology and two blogs about generally interesting ideas. Their unique voices set them apart from the rest, the lives they’ve lived have led them have the opinions that they express.
You can apply the principles from Holt’s statement to a lot of leaders, which is why I have Steve Jobs up there, but they’re qualities that I wish more people had. Hopefully this gives you a little food for thought and perhaps even makes you think a little differently about your goals.