In the Disney movie Ratatouille a world-renown French chef named Gusteau publishes a book entitled “Anyone Can Cook!” Much to the chagrin of the famed food critic, Anton Ego, this idea is repeated throughout the movie, “Anyone Can Cook, Anyone Can Cook!” And this ridiculous notion is proven in the fact (spoiler alert) that even a large, black rat named Remy becomes a famous chef.
In my own life, my awe-inspiring cooking abilities are limited to various egg dishes. These include western omelets, eggs over easy, and, my best dish, cheesy scrambled eggs. I was even notoriously called the “Egg Master” by some of my childhood friends. Nevertheless, I must admit that I cannot cook.
Years ago, I remember meeting a person who had just spent a considerable amount of money on camera equipment. He then, incredulously, declared himself to be a photographer. (Sort of like Robert Duvall’s misguided character Sonny adopting the title Apostle by baptizing himself). I was not the encouraging fellow I am today, so I told him, “Owning a nice camera does not make one a photographer, just like having a Callaway™ driver doesn’t make one a golfer.” I have a camera; I take pictures; I am not a photographer. I also have a driver, but on the links I only hit balls with it. I don’t even claim to play golf when asked.
In our self-esteem driven society, we encourage way too many people to name and claim their dream identity no matter how far from the truth it may be. You can be anything or do anything you want, the misleading mantra goes! Too many people live in this delusion, and I believe Americans are some of the most anxious people in the world because of unrealized, unrealistic dreams–dreams egged on by the modern version of false prophets calling us to be in it so we can win it.
Additionally, this dilemma is not limited to the so-called secular world. In the religious realm, I have heard many a motivational speaker at Christian youth retreats or conferences declare that God was calling all the assembled to be “World-Changers” for Jesus. Really? World-Changers? Why not just give them all Nikons and declare that they will all be the next Ansel Adams! (He was a photographer). Not everyone can be a great cook, photographer, or golfer, pastor, or whatever (fill in the blank).
However, when it comes to the topic of leadership, I think I am in agreement with the notion that Anyone Can Lead. In fact, I would go as far to say that Everyone Must Lead. That being said, I am not claiming that all will be great or even good leaders. What I am saying is that if you have a camera, then you should at least try to take pictures. And since all adults (and many children, too) have leadership responsibilities, they must lead. We all have some sort of leadership duties in our jobs, homes, religious organizations, and in civic society. Thus, learning and developing leadership skills is a very important part of our human development.
But, for me, what is most important about leadership is service, and we can all agree that anyone and everyone can serve. My core-definition of leadership is opposite of how it is commonly defined in modern leadership studies. Where the business world and the academy see leadership as influencing others to achieve or do something they may or may not want to do, I see leadership as using whatever power, influence, or resources you have to help others become all God intends them to be. Leaders exist for the benefit of the other.
If we understand leadership as giving away what was given to us, and training others to do the same, then we have come upon a universal purpose for humanity. We exist to love God by loving and serving one another. The bottom line of my leadership paradigm is using your power, influence, and resources for the sake of others. And by doing so you fulfill the only necessary leadership law: The Law of Love.
Yes, anyone can cook, but not everyone can be a chef. And anyone can take pictures or play golf, but not everyone can be a golf photographer. Yet, on the other hand, anyone can lead by serving others. Indeed, everyone must become servant-leaders.
© Paul Dordal, 2014