Leader or Follower?


by Phil Goldstein | North Forty News

Are you a leader or a follower, an invitor or an invitee? Do you organize happenings for others or do you just show up, content to let others take the initiative? 

Growing up and well into adulthood, I was the latter, very content to let others take the lead no matter the endeavor. Then, following retirement from full-time work, I began shifting to the former, seeking as I was more relevance and identity, which were missing at that point in my life. I also wanted to give back, whether rallying others for community cleanups, staging charity benefit distance runs, holding pickleball clinics and tournaments for my neighborhood, or organizing weekend retreats for friends. And besides bringing value to others, my motivation was really just to see if I could pull it off and pull it off well. I wanted the challenge for myself, and if others benefitted and/or enjoyed themselves, so much the better.

But now, with the thousands of NFN readers as my witnesses, I vow to go cold turkey back to my former passive approach with group activities. And why is that you say? 

First, because putting yourself out there to make things happen for others is often like herding cats. People are in, then they’re out, or they’re late. “I’m sorry I accepted, but I forgot I have a doctor’s appointment.” What if your doctor forgot? “The time got away from me.” My next invitation may get away from you too.

Or they forget to reply then ask when it’s too late, “Why didn’t you remind me?” So, it’s my fault.

You get replies to your invitation like, “I should be able to come.” Should—does that mean, like a ten-year-old, you hope your mother gives you permission? 

Or you get the, “I’ll let you know,” which, as the girls who I asked out in college often replied, really means, ‘I’m hoping for a better offer between now and then’. 

And there’s always the ‘can’t just say yes or no’ reply. They have to pompously taunt you with the full details of whatever they’re doing instead, as in, “Thanks, but Buffy and I are flying first class, renting a Maserati convertible and touring the wine region of Napa, staying in all five-star resorts.” 

And of course, there will always be someone who participates but tries to modify your well-conceived plans or complains about something, usually at the last minute, thus spoiling your own enjoyment. Next time, how about you do all the work then you can make all the decisions?

Finally, although I don’t do it for any reason but my own satisfaction, if you think that being the group organizer means others will return the favor, nope, no guarantee of that. As a fellow organizer who shares my frustrations at others’ lack of consideration for our efforts said recently, “If you want to be invited to my party from now on, you have to occasionally invite me to yours.”

So, please help me dear readers because I really do enjoy organizing and staging events and adventures. I deferred this past summer on holding a long-standing annual event for all the reasons above, but I missed doing it.  Maybe I just need to start over with a whole new group of invitees. If any of you who are reading this will reply promptly, definitively, succinctly, uncomplainingly and reciprocatively, then you’re my new best friends!

Phil Goldstein is in his fourth year writing Tales from Timnath for North Forty News. Phil is a 13-year Timnath resident who is finally using his West Virginia University journalism degree after getting sidetracked 50 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column at [email protected].


Support Northern Colorado Journalism

Show your support for North Forty News by helping us produce more content. It's a kind and simple gesture that will help us continue to bring more content to you.

BONUS - Donors get a link in their receipt to sign up for our once-per-week instant text messaging alert. Get your e-copy of North Forty News the moment it is released!

Click to Donate