First off, if your voice is not heard, you will never lead. End of story. No one will follow you if you do not speak up. Your voice should be the first and the last that is heard in conversation; everything else is fluff. There is great power that comes with a voice. No one remembers the words of those who talk softly. The few remember the words of those who sound like everyone else. The many remember the words of those who speak with pizzazz, amplitude, vigor, and whether or not they have it, authority. Words on paper bear even greater significance; they are inscribed, permanent, and will be read and remembered for generations to come. Think for a moment as to why we are still reading stories from ancient times. Every author is a leader, an inspirer, and an instiller of wisdom and virtue for every human being worthy enough to read his or her work. Some choose to forgo the need to read out of a falsely built-up illusion of an all-knowing attitude. Knowledge is in books. It always has been and always will be. Whether you choose to read or not is up to you. Know this: some of the great leaders of this world are authors. Why? Because they have left their mark on this world and will continue to lead, inspire, and instill on a daily basis. What is meant by ‘instill’? To instill means to leave an impact on something. Words on paper, undoubtedly, do just that. That is not to say the world’s great leaders are only authors. People lead in all branches of life—as part of a team, on a workforce, or simply with friends. Above all else, leaders are those who are followed, valued, and believed in. 

No matter the case, everyone knows who the true leader of any situation is. For the sake of this article, the argument rests that there can be only one leader in a group—one person to bring about success or failure; the need for improvement or the desire to remain tranquil. People turn to their leader to make decisions for them, to guide them on the right path, and to ensure their own safety and security. Some people are insecure that they will make the right decision, others merely do not want that sort of role and the power that comes with it. You may resent a leader; you may curse a leader; you may love a leader; you may wish you were the leader. Whatever the case may be, leaders lead, leaders inspire, and leaders instill. The world would not be what it is today if people did not step forth and make decisions. Granted, the world may not be a utopia, but it is what it is. Everyone who has not led—all who have not had a say in the matter—is forced to come to terms with that fact because they did not have a care or bother to make change. This is where voice takes command. Without a voice, there is no change. Without a voice, there is instability and mayhem. Of course, there are those that say too much and have no filter. What can be said about those people is the following: at least they are trying. If you sit back and wait for a future you desire without doing anything to bring it about, you might as well stop wishing. Whatever you do, do not sit back and judge a leader if you are not one yourself. Even if you are, who are you to judge? You will never get to Mars unless risk is taken. You will never have a visible set of abs unless the time is devoted, and discipline is practiced. You will never build your own house unless a fortune is earned; and for that to come to fruition, work must be put in. Therefore, leadership is seeking change and taking risk. Progression is made in society because someone chose to apply himself or herself, in order to defy the norms of society.  

A voice can range from useless to influential. If you inspire another on a daily basis, you are a leader, plain and simple. Whether they are a leader for good or bad is another story. The point is that leaders inspire. If you desire to lead, you must see things in a new light. On a daily basis, an average leader typically repeats “How’s it going?” Good leaders will say “Tell me something about yourself I never knew.” Great leaders will enquire “How are you going to be a better person today than you were yesterday?” Small talk is a mind-numbing chore. Do not make conversation a chore. It shows you are just going through the motions to get through the day. Even this slightest change to minuscule mannerisms when communing with others can motivate them to make the changes they so longingly wish to make, thus adding to the point that leaders instill.  

A leader must practice speaking before a multitude of people. Whether that number is ten, one thousand, or one million, it matters not. Leaders must be able to communicate their thoughts, or nothing will be accomplished. You can impart feelings of fear, passion, love, hate, or ambition. No matter what it is, people will remember a speech because the words can be recalled over and over again, ten, twenty, and fifty years from now. You can either be one with the crowd or you can speak your mind in front of the crowd. Many will judge you and that is honestly not a problem for you or anyone but them. Those who curse your name are only mad at themselves for not doing what you are doing. Pay it no heed. Jealousy can sometimes be sharper than any pain. Instead, see reason and cater to the needs of as many as possible. Keep in mind that not everyone can be satisfied with the way things are. There will always be those who despise you, and that is perfectly fine. Success comes at a price and you have to be willing to pay the fee. And therefore, leading is not only communing with those closest to you and to those in close quarters, but to the multitudes of people who flock together in your name. Their admiration for your merits may be temporary or forever. Building reputation builds recognition, quality, and character.  

If you inspire others, you will learn accountability. Mistakes are made infinitely throughout life, and to believe they will all be minor enough that no one will notice is folly. A sign of great character, as a leader, is to own your mishaps as much as you own your praiseworthy deeds. No one sees a film writer’s scrapped pieces of story but the film writer himself or herself. No one sees an author’s scrapped pieces of writing but the author herself or himself. No one sees behind the scenes of daily affairs on the job or in the classroom but he or she who bears witness. The journey is, undoubtedly, long and grueling, though nonetheless necessary; if you are to come out on top one day, share with the world of both the good and the bad, the times of distress and the times of flourishing progression. In this way, people will see you as either the man or woman who leads them and him or her who also struggled on the way to prominence. No human being is perfect. We all struggle at every moment in time, yet only you can be the one to convey those struggles, if you wish for people to follow in your tracks, overcome what you struggled most with, and learn from your mistakes. Being a younger sibling or the youngest amongst a team can significantly increase your likelihood that you assess where people went wrong. Chances are, you learned from your elders. Now, let the world learn from you. If your elders were top-notch teachers, and you were student enough to sort right from wrong, virtuous from immoral, the world will be in joyous tears when they see and hear of your triumphs. Stay true to yourself, stay true to your word, and own every decision you make, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between. Your co-workers, peers, and teammates will praise your name even more if they learn you struggled with them, you struggled alongside them, and you owned such defeats. Therefore, to be a leader is to be humble. To be a leader is to see failure as a pathway and causeway to an emergent life of everlasting success. 

Leading requires you to make others feel empowered. As part of your team or staff or peerage, others will begin to forget they work for you—if you are their boss—and begin to feel they work for a cause. You will be a specter at times, and that is quite okay. Let them take the reins. As a leader, you should like to rise with your peers. They still need you to guide them where they go wrong. Do not forget that a leader does not have to be someone you work for. Again, lead, inspire, instill. You can be a leader whether you have authority or are a follower of a higher-ranking person. If the workplace is the focus, an employee or contractor will want to interact with you, more, if you are someone he or she looks up to and sees as one who practices the qualities of leadership. On a broader scale, as a leader, you must show that you are in this life not for yourself alone but for others as well. A mistaken individual will say that being selfless is the quality we all require to live a better life. A fool will believe it. Being selfish is just as important as being selfless. “We” wins more battles, not “I”. But if you cannot first master yourself and be the best version of yourself you possibly can be, every second of every day of every year, you cannot hope to understand others and bring out the best versions of themselves that they can be or you can summon. Remember how adults once told you to not be selfish. What they should have said was you must be selfish and selfless. Cast aside these childhood injustices and don the face of an intelligent person. Some people just do not want you to know the greatest secret of all, for they are not both selfish and selfless. Some people just do not know it themselves. And they are not leaders because of it; they are just another person in a world of many. Therefore, leaders stand out from the crowds. Sometimes, to make the journey alone and assert a differing viewpoint is far more beneficial than blending in and falling for the routine ways of society.  

Never settle in life. Being a leader means walking this life with a hunger for constant improvement. If you choose to settle in life, you will grow old far sooner than you wish. If you choose to settle in life, you will be forgotten. If you choose to settle in life, you will wish you were still doing, instead of waiting. The time is now! Take up your blight and strike it down! When you reach one goal, face another. When you conquer today, conquer tomorrow. When you conquer this year, conquer the next. But do not think that just getting by is enough. You must be ambitious in this life to see yourself on top. You must want to climb the ladder to eventually sit by a warm hearth and harken back on the days of old. You must be different than everyone else in this world, and that is an awesome thing, really. Most people are all individual in their own ways, and yet, they are all the same in others. Do not be like them. Be you. Seek success. Rise up.  

It comes as no surprise that confidence is sought after in many aspects of life such as with relationships. This comes as no surprise, as a relationship is, in its basic form, an interaction—whether short or long term—between two or more people. Someone or everyone involved has to take command and lead. Where two or more people gather, there is always need for at least one leader. People love a confident leader because he or she will instill that quality amongst those around them. You can see that being a leader is akin to vibrating wavelengths of energy. Though in this case, defining qualities are what radiate across an orbit of minds. Be confident in your decisions. Leaders lead because they are quick to make decisions and do not waste time second-guessing themselves. Of course, if you are indecisive now, you cannot simply become confident in decision-making. You must practice, so you can learn, so you can one day teach. Whether you are titled “Professor” or “Instructor or “Coach” matters not, you are all teachers in this life. At least, you should be. 

Listen to others. Listen to yourself, of course, but also heed the opinions and input of others. You will learn, and so will they. The quest for knowledge and wisdom is one of the great quests to be undertaken in this life. You can either do that alone, in which case you might make it, or you can do it together, in which case you more likely will make it. Learning from others is perhaps the ultimate way to advance your knack for leadership. Do not just listen to their words, though. Hear them! Hear their cries. Hear their applause. Hear their wishes. Hear their complaints. Make good on their word and show them who you are.  

As much as you must grow alongside your peers, know that you must also know when to shut them away. Social media is killing ambition, today, more than ever. Vicarious living is the bane of a person’s existence. Living as though you were in someone else’s shoes is a sure way to your demise as a potential leader. Be your own self. Do not envy others. Learn from them, by all means, but do not become a pawn on their chessboard. You do not need approval of others to be the best version of yourself you can be. You do not need the most likes on a post to know your message is getting across. Understand that only your life is most important to focus on, at present. Look out and face the world with your eyes, not through the eyes of others. If you are bothered by what you see on the media, unfollow those people or delete your accounts. You are likely to be better off without them, anyway, in the long run. And, as you will soon find out, the long run is all that matters.  

Set goals. What does this mean to you? Does it mean to say you will run ten miles today? Does it mean you will read a book today? Does it mean you will sit in on another interview, today, and hope your qualities are enough for some employer to judge rightly in a matter of minutes? Stop right there. If your goals are limited to just the next twenty-four hours, you are already lost at sea, doomed to drown. Again, never settle in life. You cannot just get by to live a life as a leader. That is something for all those who choose not to lead. Ideally, though, you will change this quality about your peers, as this life is about self and peer improvement. Anyways, do not look to the day’s work. Look to the decade’s work. The question is not, “Where do you want to be in the next ten years?” The question must be, “Where must you be in the next ten years?” There is no room for want in this life. There is only room for need. Change your mindset from wanting things to needing them, and everything you “want” will be yours. Simple psychology. The brain cognizes a need as superior to a want. The brain perceives that it needs water more than it perceives a want for dessert. Make yourself believe you need these goals like you need water, and you will achieve greatness in the blink of an eye. Success can happen overnight, if you make it so, just the same as you can change the world for better, despite being one of seven billion. Therefore, to lead is to be a visionary.   

At the beginning, middle, and end of each day, being a leader is, primarily, about you, before it is about anyone else. You must believe and know you want to lead before you can. You must learn to live with yourself before you can live amongst others. If you cannot bear to sit in an enclosed room with no material possessions, no phone, and no distractions but yourself for a whole day, you will find difficulty in learning to respect yourself. Respect is hard to come by, these days, and if you cannot give it to yourself, you are not fit to be a leader.   

In a hundred years’ time, the current population of over seven billion will likely double—if we can learn to survive such a crowded earth. Your struggles will not matter. Your regrets certainly will not. All that will matter is what you have done to change this world, for better or worse. What will they say of this generation? What will they say of you? What will be written? Will you disappear through the ages, or will you live on in the hearts, spirits, and souls of man, woman, and child alike? 

  

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Thomas Maranian
I radiate both internally and externally, an infinitude of passion for creative thought, an unending lifelong code of self and peer-improvement, and an idiosyncratic perspective and outlook on all things good, bad, and in between. I believe that when we are, one day, gone, all that will have mattered is what we did to change this world, for better or worse.

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