The word “leader” means different things to different people. It often conjures up images of a person behind the podium at a huge conference, the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, or the spokesperson for a social cause.

You certainly don’t have to be a household name to be a leader. In fact, you don’t have to be known at all outside your normal social circle. Being a leader has little to do with fame and everything to do with courage, open-mindedness, and commitment.

Leadership-Can-Be-Lonely

We’re willing to bet that as a Levo League reader, you’re a leader in at least one area of your life. But how can you tell? What does leadership look like in everyday life?

  • If you’re willing to address an issue, voice a belief, stand up for yourself or others, or express an unpopular opinion—you’re a leader.
  • If you’re trying to make a living doing what you truly love, even if it means breaking free from the stable office life—you’re a leader.
  • If people frequently seek you out for advice, help, or support because they believe in your compassion and strength—you’re a leader.

A true leader is anyone who’s open to a new path, willing to challenge the status quo, and brave enough to lead and educate others through words or by example (often both).

Leadership can be scary, and not everyone is willing to speak up in front of strangers or take an unconventional path. Seth Godin explains in his book Tribes, “Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.”

Leadership can also be lonely. Your friends and family may not fully understand or support your actions or beliefs, and there are plenty more people who will call you wrong, crazy, or a know-it-all. It’s impossible to please everyone when you’re a true leader, and that can feel disappointing and isolating.

However, the benefits of stepping up and being a leader—the connection with the people who really get you, the adrenaline rush of pure passion, and the authenticity of living in alignment with your values—far out-shadow the discomfort. Being a leader means creating a truly amazing life and inspiring others to do the same. You’re more than capable of being a true leader in one (or several) areas of your life.

As Seth Godin said, “You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”

Have your own set of benefits and drawbacks to being a leader in your community? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Levo Mentor Soledad O’Brien, Award-winning journalist and CEO of Starfish Media, her opinion about being a mentor and how she copes with the potential risks and setbacks.