For years I’ve lead “growth” groups for my church, The Journey. Growth groups are small groups in which people meet during the week to build friendships and study the Bible. I’ve met some of the coolest people through these groups and still keep in touch with many of them. While I originally joined these groups to learn something and grow deeper in my faith, I was asked to be a leader nine years ago. I don’t know why. I was always the youngest person anywhere I went (and somehow nine years later, still am) and felt that I was the most inexperience in…everything. This summer I’ve been leading a running growth group. This isn’t my first running growth group. Two years ago I led a running growth group but it was for leisure. No one was a marathoner. We all stuck together. This time, I’m leading a group of runners who are definitely faster, stronger, and leaner.
Recently I was also asked to volunteer with the Urban Girl Squad (UGS) running groups. If you are unfamiliar with Urban Girl Squad, it is a networking group for women in their 20s and 30s that offers fun activities for women in NYC (fitness classes, cocktail nights, volunteering, etc) and you should definitely check it out!! UGS and Athleta, the premiere active apparel line, have partnered up and are offering free coached runs and then afterward the women are heading over to the Athleta store for refreshments. I’m NOT a running coach for these events. But it’s also intimidating to be a volunteer because of the pressure of setting a good example and wanting to encourage these women.
There is nothing I can teach either of these two groups of runners. I’m not the fastest, strongest, or skinniest. Who would want to follow my lead or my example?
Leadership and being a leader doesn’t mean you’re the best or the most skilled. One of my biggest insecurities in participating in any sort of fitness group or fulfilling any sort of leadership position is not being skinny enough. I know it’s wrong, but I judge fitness instructors who don’t have ROCK HARD bodies. Leadership is less about ability and more about attitude. It’s a willingness to encourage people, challenge them and help them. If ability has anything to do with it, it’s the ability to move people, to stir emotions deep within them that s/he would want to improve themselves and improve the world.
I may not be a great teacher, but I want to be a great leader. I want people to see how happy it makes me to run. I want people to run and exercise because it makes them feel great, not because they have to do it. Being skinny has nothing to do with it. It’s not the fat that’s weighing you down and holding you back, it’s your attitude.
What steps do you need to take to be a leader in your field?