– Someone to Watch Over Me, George Gershwin
The sweet little crooner Gershwin penned long ago warmed many a heart for love-seekers everywhere. The glorified image of a shepherd for the little lost lamb was touching, really.
But on the Internet, shepherds and sheep aren’t so nostalgically poignant. Many people search desperately for someone to give them the answers and the key to happiness forever. They follow just about anyone home.
That’s okay. Plenty of people offer good advice and have strategies that likely work well. No matter where you are in life, someone always has something you can examine and use.
There’s something a little dangerous, though, about the sheep and shepherd analogy. What makes a good shepherd? Who are these people watching over the flocks? Why should you listen to them? Where’d they get that staff, anyways, and does it come in blue?
Good questions. It all boils down to this: Are you thinking for yourself?
We’re All Shepherds In Our Own Right
Everyone begins life on the same level. We grow and gain experiences along the way that shape our personalities and perceptions into very different people who see the world in different ways. That’s fine; it takes all kinds to make a world.
The critical key, though, that all people are born equal. No one is really better than another one. A person may have certain strengths or experiences that give them expertise, but that same person has weaknesses in other areas.
Some become leaders and grab a staff off the wall, marching forth. Others have the shepherd’s crook shoved on them, and they act or stand there feeling silly. Even more wander around the pasture and suddenly realize everyone else is following them because they’ve made good choices and found nice grass.
Authority is a bit of an illusion. The shepherd is only a shepherd insofar as his flock chooses to follow. If all followers suddenly decide this guy in the robes isn’t worth listening to, he loses all power to lead.
Who’s Leading Your Life?
The Internet is full of experts today, some telling you exactly what to do, some inspiring you to think on what to do and some simply there wanting you to follow. You have the choice on what’s right for you and which person offers the best advice for your needs.
You may be desperate for greener pastures, hoping someone will bring you there. The truth is that you have eyes to see and a brain that works pretty well, if you let it. Thinking critically is important to your personal success. No single leader has the key to your happiness. No one has all the answers. No one ever will. People can only propose strategies based on their personal experiences and observations. You certainly have had enough experiences of your own, and you can certainly apply your observations to proposed tactics.
Following blindly without questioning the information you receive removes all your power and places it in the hands of someone else. You become a true sheep, just going where you’re pointed.
When you’re a shepherd in your own right, you can choose your pasture after receiving the information. It gives you all the power you could want, and probably tastier grass, too.
So have the courage to ask questions and analyze the information you receive from all the shepherds who want you to listen. All you have to do is ask, “Why do you think clover is better than alfalfa?” or say, “Hey. There’s some nice grazing over here. I’m going this way. Want to come?”
No one’s going to whack you on the head for using your brain.
In fact, you may discover your own staff tucked away somewhere. In blue, too. All you have to do is use it.