The Boundless Fantasies of Childhood


For many years--before I went into administration--I considered myself a good follower. My role as a follower involved doing my best job, allowing the "boss" to take the lead and backing his/her play. It was my expectation that in return for quality work, enthusiastic achievement on behalf of the organization, my supervisor and the organization we worked for would take care of me.

And, for the most part, that arrangement worked, even if I was a bit blind to the reality.

That reality came crashing down on me in my time as a Campus Instructional Specialist on a campus. As one of the first, if not THE first, "campus technology coordinator" and instructional specialist, I dealt with many mundane topics...writing campus improvement plans in collaboration with grade level teachers, providing model teaches as appropriate, mentoring classroom teachers, integrating technology into the content area TEKS, all side by side. I had the respect of my colleagues. In fact, it was a Golden Era. I look back at that time, like many others in my life, and a bit of nostalgia slides down my cheek in the form of a tear drop or two.

Yet, as an instructional specialist, whom my principal sought to groom for administration, I couldn't help but retreat in the face of adults who chose to behave like children. It seemed incomprehensible to imagine teachers, professionals, doing what they should not role was to document that per my principal's directive. And, at the end of the year when the teacher left, forced out by the weight of documentation, I made a hasty decision--I decided to never be a principal.

Now, I'm older, wiser, and that decision does seem ill-conceived. Over the years from that decision point, I have found comfort in being a follower who is a reluctant leader. When all else fails, I would step up from my spot in the traces, like a sled dog promoted when the lead dog is injured.

Over time, I've found leadership to be a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth. Working with dedicated teams of vibrant people, often waiting to be unleashed from the "follower mentality," nurtured to become leaders...well, you can't ask for much more than that.

These thoughts were spurred by a recent book I began to read (in fact, a colleague was having a conversation analyzing a situation, and when she discovered I had not read it, immediately ran to get her copy and came back).

I'm struck by these words at the beginning of that book:

...leadership is the prize that ambitious men and women have struggled and even died for...We aspire to their power and its perquisites even as we take unseemly pleasure when one of them stumbles and falls. Indeed, the moment when each of us realizes he or she is mostly a follower, not a leader, is a genuine developmental milestone; who forgets that painful leap over the line of demarcation between the boundless fantasies of childhood and the sober reality of an adulthood in which we will never quite become the god we hoped to be?
Source: Warren Bennis in the Introduction to The Art of Followership
The boundless fantasies of childhood. In many ways, it is Peter Pan's feet sinking into the soil, as if his happy thought had faded away. It is at that moment when you become a leader, when you step on solid ground and seek to build a bridge to that reality you once experienced in your dreams.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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