I remember the first time I saw them. I was 10 years old at the National Junior Angus Show. While it wasn’t my first time attending, it was my first time showing. My heifer that year was almost too tame and a little reluctant to move sometimes. While we were in class, a guy was suddenly behind me, helping to coax her along. He wore a green jacket. And no, he wasn’t a Master’s golf champion.
The green jackets of the National Junior Angus Association board stand out. And for my junior show career in the NJAA, you could often spot them following someone in the ring. It might be a first time showman, nervous and anxious with a too tame heifer, or a seasoned veteran, frustrated and impatient with an unruly heifer. As I grew older, I realized what wearing one of those green jackets meant to those fortunate to wear them and what came with it. You were a leader who was often a follower.
You followed cattle in the ring. You followed the last quiz bowl contestant into the room. You followed the candidates vying to serve on the board with you into the delegate meeting. The junior in front of you might look back and give you a smile as you helped them into their speech room. The parent might give a quick thank you as you followed their child’s bull out of the ring. The grandparent might even go in for a hug as you help a champion to the backdrop. All of them were grateful for you being a leader as you followed.
As I got older, I realized many of the leaders in my life were followers. My parents who followed the school bus to my sporting and music events. My college professor who always followed her last student out of the classroom, staying to answer every question. My first boss who followed the sun into work every morning and chased it on her way out every night. All of them showing me you can lead by following.
I now ask you to go out and be a leader by following. See that young man struggling to get his heifer to the wash rack? Follow him all of the way there. See that first year junior who was a little too nervous during her sales talk? Follow her back to the stalls with words of encouragement. See those parents struggling to load up at the end of the show while watching their young children? Follow them back to their stalls and offer to help load the trailer. Because you won’t realize it now, but someone is watching and looking up to you. And they will learn the valuable lesson of leading by following.
This blog post was written by Chelsea Duis.