The Promise

Has the word ‘leader’ triggered that cryptic, mixed feeling inside you? No one wants to feel like a follower - we all like to think that we are able to make our own choices. But few want the responsibility that comes with bringing minds together.
fashion designer & artist: alejandro bárzaga model: katelyn perez modeling agency: posche models hair & make-up: mili rottjer production assistants: chantalle litvak, maile castaneda photography: flávio iryoda
Leadership is one of those big words that mean so much and so little at the same time. One of those concepts like happiness, acceptance, and self-esteem that we could write volumes about without ever reaching the end of it. One of those kaleidoscope words with a chameleon skin depending on the mindset and the culture. It would be actually difficult to nail down what leadership means to perfection, as it’s interesting to note that different types of cultures trigger different types of leadership. It enhances an independence of sorts that is probably only existent in certain people, a detachment not only from other human beings but also from the leader’s ego. This is not my goal to touch base with political leadership here - rather, I want to question what we feel within the endeavor for personal leadership and growth. The rapport between politics and getting on top of ourselves to keep our feet on the ground might be tighter than we think, when you bring the macro vision to a personal level. Think of it this way: while in some countries, you would need one leader backed by parties, in others, it is of the utmost importance that the oldest members of the society get the responsibility of power, due to their old-age wisdom. In yet other cultures, it is the power of the whole community as one that makes leadership that much more effective, dressing democracy with yet another meaning. So what about leadership when it comes to yourself? Is effective leadership coming from a mashup of your surroundings digested and made yours, or does it come from stripping yourself from exterior influences to go back to a raw mindset? And how do they influence the way you succeed? So much goes into being your own leader. Being your own goal-getter, fighting for and against yourself when you don’t want to get up in the morning because you’re the one to structure your own days, and you have to bring yourself in a place to be as efficient as possible - because time is limited. Effective leadership comes from a place of love, care, and promise. It has nothing to do with professionalism in its early stages. Rather, leadership is understanding - like any healthy relationship would be. Although it does call for sacrifices, leadership at its core is taking the time to process the why’s of what you are going through as you’re paving the way for your true self, and maybe others’. Whenever you choose to embark on a new line of business, do so with all the deep hope you can fit in your heart. As Martin Luther King said, you need to take the first few steps in faith - you don’t have to see the whole staircase. But you know how it feels. You are able to lead the way for a few weeks, maybe a few months with inconsistent results. It feels down, down, down, a little bit high, then higher, then down, then higher, and success is never quite linear.
You have to sacrifice lots in order for success to knock on the door. And I do believe that success and leadership won’t knock on your door unless you are perfectly aware upfront of the puzzle pieces that need to be put together. I am not talking about knowing all about the outcome - what fun would it be? I am talking about enjoying the process of discipline, for anyone looking to make it in life has to rule over themselves before they can claim some kind of power in society. There’s a certain comfort to be found in times when you meet like-minded people, creators, and self-leaders who go through the exact same situations you’re going through, whether the small joys or the big despair moments. It’s all about being the leader of yourself, whether you’re at the beginning or in the middle of it all. As a freelance writer, ex-fashion makeup artist, and self-employed full-time blogger, I’ve experienced many of the ups and downs that leadership brings about. Funnily enough, being a leader means in no way that you will always have answers to all and any situation. What it means, on the other hand, is that you have been gifted with the mental ability to navigate uncertain waters, whether it comes to believing in the not-yet-real or reacting to worldly relationships. Even if you cannot always control the outcome, what you’re putting out there is worth believing in - in being a leader, you are making connections with human beings as well as virtual universes. There are lots of degrees to the promise you make to yourself and others when you take on the leader role. It induces a feeling of compassion, understanding, and motivation. Above all, whoever becomes a leader instantly becomes the go-to trusted figure, the grounded soul, and the visionary who possesses the knowledge of all possible events. Even if that might not always be the case, as no one possesses such knowledge, it is largely expected from the leader to be flawless and faultless.
As a leader, you need to keep up with the promise that you’ve made, whether it be targeted at yourself, close people who have chosen you as a trusted representative or colleague, or society in general. The promise is always to better the world, and lead on a path of greatness and happiness. When people choose a representative, they are looking for someone to make them happier every step of the way, all the way down the road. It’s a human matter, a matter of bettering the current situation - always and forever. Many leaders use their power for their own gratification. An interesting way to look at it, however, bases itself on a selfless, almost philosophical level, for the greater good. How do you know when the greater good is reached? That is when most of the population is happy. Transposed to a personal level, leading yourself from a place of love, in an epicurean way, allows you to make painfully difficult decisions short term for your future greater good. It has nothing to do with bringing attention onto yourself from the outer world and everything to do with making pure decisions that you need to trust to reach bigger and better goals. Money has nothing to do with it. Fame and success have nothing to do with it. Staying true to pure intentions bring about limitless happiness, while fame and money stacks are by-products of well-led leadership. Similarly, beating adversity comes from a place of love. When I talk about adversity, I am talking about yourself.
No adversary is greater than your ego and the little voice that tells you that you can’t do it. What makes a leader especially attractive is the value of their ideas, full of compassion and understanding for themselves and their people. There needs to be a balance between set tasks and possibilities, and between vision and integrity. Being focused on one specific goal helps you master your leadership skills more effectively. Much like horses who cannot see except in front of themselves as they’re wearing blinkers, so you need to think once you have drawn a vision for yourself. It might be boring, but consistency can only be achieved once you let go of all the superficial. And if you are set out on the path to being a leader, that’s the best way to achieve it. Of course, you’re going to keep your passions, your family, and your friends, but having definitive goals will help you understand who and what belongs in your circle - and your growth. For as you grow as a person, you will grow as a leader. And that growth will help pour back into relationships, thus making society a better place for all. The notion of regret cannot be detached from the concept of leadership. This position inherently forces responsibility, and responsibility comes from making choices. The tough part is to make pondered decisions, even though you will not know whether the choice is the right one or not, for only once the deed is done, can the effectiveness of a choice be known. Take in your surroundings, but remain detached enough to avoid superficial influences and still be free enough to figure out where you are in the process of dominating yourself.
For leadership, it is also acceptable when it works and when it doesn’t. It is being especially understanding and reactive when it comes to steering the wheel in another direction - even if your ego is not happy about it. This is a position that demands acknowledging when mistakes are made, no matter how difficult it can be. Leadership is forgetting about yourself and serving all. When all is said and done, I believe that a leader is - they don’t become. And to be fair, no true leader can be called such if they’re only in it for the feeling of success. Being a leader - of yourself or a greater ecosystem - doesn’t translate only to sacrifice. Rather, there are layers to passion and vision that most are not able to see. Leadership is not about power over a group of people - it is about power over your ego. Ego. The one thing that can possibly make you forget is that the ultimate goal is to better life for all. If you keep in mind to make human choices and set love-oriented goals, then your vision of leadership can only be effective.