Dear younger me,

In my last letter to the younger me I reminded myself of the importance of leading with love. Life as a father is more enjoyable when you keep in mind the simple insights I left in my last note: Give the benefit of the doubt, balance your counsel, and vulnerability builds character.

Take these lessons to heart as you grow. In this letter I wanted to share a single insight. As I approach yet another birthday I couldn’t help but contemplate the blessings I’ve experienced along the way. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of skinned knee moments in the journey. Many of those moments help shape who we become as we grow in our wisdom.  But, there is one simple principle that I almost missed.

Note to self, don’t miss this important principle; you only lead as well as you follow.

We didn’t appreciate the impact of this principle until later in life. Honestly, should the younger me get a hold of this letter in High School, take a deep breath, sit down, put aside the noise of your peers, and pay close attention to this one simple message…learn to follow.

  1. Who you follow matters.

We become a reflection of people we are surrounded by. More importantly, we take on the traits, both good and bad, of those we choose to follow. Who we follow impacts how we think, feel, and act. Side note: Fortunately, we chose to follow Jesus but honestly, we didn’t understand how to follow until later in life.

  1. How you follow matters.

It is should come as no shock that we are tad bit stubborn. In looking back, we spent much of our time going through the motions of following mostly out of fear. True following involves humbly submitting not out of fear but out of love. Basically, what we learned is following well requires serving others with integrity. Side note: It took us much too long to learn this. The key to how, love others as you want to be loved.   

  1. Why you follow matters.

Why learning to follow matters is because…well you matter. You have great worth and are loved dearly by many but mostly by the One who created you. Never forget this, you are deeply loved. Side note: Over the years there were times when our self-worth faded. What we learned was this, when we focused on following or better put, serving others with honor and integrity, our self-worth increased in a healthy way.

Final note: Effective leadership is built upon the foundation of true followership. When you spend time learning to follow you are essentially learning to be a true leader.

Happy Father’s Day and Birthday

The Future Me