Have you ever tried to get into a restaurant or store in the middle of the day but the door wouldn’t open.
You look at the sign displaying the business hours – the business is open but the door won’t open. You see people inside and wonder why they have locked themselves into the building.
Then you see it…the other sign.
The little sign next to the door handle says “push.” You’ve spent the last five minutes trying to muscle the door open by pulling on it.
Don’t feel too bad, we’ve all done it (and lived to laugh about it).
Here’s the thing: doors that you pull open are easy to open when you pull, but next to impossible to open if you push (and vice versa).
This is a great illustration of the way many students (as well as people in general) approach leadership. It’s like they wake up one day and think, “I’m going to be a leader” and try to push their way in. But the leadership door won’t open for them. It appears to be stuck.
They simply didn’t read the sign.
Sometimes the door to leadership opens when it’s pushed, sometimes when it’s pulled. You have to be able to read the signs to know which is the right way.
The two signs are permission and passion.
The leadership door can be pushed open through permission.
Every year on our campus we hold election and selection processes for student leadership positions. These processes are all about permission. Students are chosen by peers and by advisors. They fill out applications, deliver speeches, and write up resumes to demonstrate their ability and preparedness to lead.
Being chosen is a form of permission. You get the job. You hold the position. The door of leadership is pushed open for you and it’s pushed open by others who believe in your capabilities.
One of the ways you can earn the permission of others to lead is through experience. People see what you’re capable of doing. While everyone makes mistakes, you can demonstrate how you learn from your mistakes. Each experience serves as a way to prepare you for future experiences. As people learn to trust you, they will be more willing to push the door of leadership open for you.
The leadership door can be pulled open through passion.
Passion is the fire inside your belly that drives you to care about something or someone more than anything else.
Passion is what keeps you up late at night and gets you up early in the morning. (Click to tweet this)
It’s passion when you see a problem or a need and determine to be the one to fix it. It’s passion that draws people out of rut and routine to do something meaningful and significant.
As soon as you recognize and act on your passion, you start to pull the leadership door open.
You can’t help it. If you’re passionate about something, you quickly realize there is only so much you can do on your own. You need the help of others. You start to get others involved in the work of your passion.
You didn’t go looking for leadership, but your passion pulled you into it. People want to follow passion. They want to be passionate about something too.
The door to leadership isn’t all that difficult to open if you know which way it opens. Look for the signs. People will push you the door open for you when they trust you and give you the permission to lead. Your passion will pull the door open for you as you invest your energies and draw others to your cause.
Let me ask you this: what are some ways you’ve pushed or pulled the door of leadership open in your own life?