There are a couple of women that walk through my neighbourhood, I usually see them in the morning as I’m leaving for work. The first time I observed them, I thought they had been in a terrible fight. One of them was walking at least 5 steps ahead at a very fast pace with no signs of slowing down. The woman following looked like she was trying to catch up with everything that she had. I thought to myself, “Wow, what happened to these friends on their morning walk?”

Then I saw them again, and again.

Always the same.

The most awkward walking partners ever.

I realized that they couldn’t possible be fighting every morning and that this was intentional. Something was happening here. One woman walks faster, with more purpose and confidence. The friend following is trying to keep up. It’s hard work for her but she doesn’t stop. She’s being led by example. Maybe’s she trying to get in shape, maybe she is training for a race or perhaps she wants to be a speed walker.

Whatever her motives, she has clearly identified someone in her life that she wants to follow and she is giving it her all.

Every time I see these women in their yoga pants out early in the morning, I’m so inspired.

I think a lot about who is following me, and the example that I set but I don’t often think about who I am following. For many of us, following has become a term connected to social media. These days most following happens in front of a screen.

It’s even how we introduce ourselves to people.

“Oh, I follow you!”

It’s all good. Screen following does help us learn to a certain extent. But there’s a world outside flat-screen living. A 3D gathering around us of actual people. People that we can interact with in real-time that have the potential to change our lives and help us grow. 

True following is more than reading about someone else’s life on a timeline. Sometimes it’s about taking extra steps. It’s face-to-face connection, it’s hands-on mentoring, it’s hard conversations and purposeful relationship. It means putting yourself out there and it’s not always easy, it takes courage to be vulnerable and admit that you need someone to lead you. 

Like the women on my street, dramatic action is required to follow someone in a way that can help bring change to our lives. 

It’s so easy to think I can just walk on my own, but I need someone to try to catch up to.

I need to follow someone who can set a pace.

When we are following the right person we have to work to keep up. It’s challenging, it stretches us and sometimes it might even hurt a little as we grow in new ways, but it’s so important.

We all need to be followers.

Especially if we are leaders.

If you only have people behind you, soon you’ll run out of places to go. 

I’ve started to ask myself the following questions:

Who is ahead of me?
Who can I learn from?
Who will challenge me and get me out of my comfort zone?
Who is going in the direction that I want to go?

Those are the people that I need to follow. To help me set my pace, and to push me to new levels and help me learn. To walk on the journey with me, helping me navigate the course ahead. To hold me accountable as I stretch and grow. To remind of the purposes and plans for my life, encourage me in my faith and keep me on track. I might lag behind them awkwardly (I’m really good at awkward) but I’m going to catch up.

It doesn’t matter who you are.

How much experience you have.

How old you are.

If you’re at the top of your game.

There is always someone that you can follow.

Today, I saw the “walkers” out again. I didn’t see them much over the winter and I noticed something really interesting as I watched them. The gap between them has gotten smaller, the learner is catching up to the teacher. Soon they will be walking pace to pace. It’s a beautiful picture, and I imagine before long the one that worked so hard to catch up, will find someone that wants to follow her.

Look behind you and lead.

Look ahead of you and learn.

Find someone to follow.