This I Believe

Sebastian Alfaro: “The Choice Is Yours”

The Choice is Yours

by Sebastian Alfaro


My mother always told me from a young age to be a leader and not a follower. Growing up I would just brush it off whenever she said that but now, I understand what she means. She was talking about the traits of being a leader. A leader has characteristics such as authenticity, trust, truthfulness, and loyalty.

My mother would also say “don’t do what the crowd does just because everyone is doing it.” I think that it also correlates to the traits of being a leader and not a follower. Growing up, my mother and father would teach me these characteristics that to this day mean a lot to me and I always try to achieve and hold.

Truthfulness is the first one I can remember learning growing up. My father would focus on honesty with me a lot. His thing was that if you are honest and tell the truth and accept blame when it was you at fault, you would get out of things and people would respect you. Telling the truth rather than lying is a big deal because it shows a lot in your character and leaders are not afraid to take blame when they are at fault.

The earliest memory I have of this is I had just broken something in my basement, and I had tried to hide it. My father went into the basement and found the thing I broke which he had paid a good amount of money for. He then came up and asked my brother and I if one of us had done it. My younger brother said no and that he never went into the basement and my father knew that because he would get scared to go down there so it could have only been me.

I said no and that I had not seen that thing ever down there.

He then told me, “Look it is easier to take the blame and accept responsibility than to lie and me not have trust for you and lose respect on your word.”

I then told the truth that I had in fact broken the thing that he was talking about, and he was not mad. Instead, he told me that since I had told the truth that I did it, he would not discipline me as harsh as he would have if I had kept going with the lie I was trying to tell in the beginning.

Trust is the next characteristic I learned growing up.

Without trust it is hard to be a leader because if no one can trust you it is harder for people to be loyal to you and follow you. I learned this with one of my friends when he would be telling too many lies. I knew he would be lying and after awhile I just did not have trust in him. After going through experiences like that I realized that trust was a major key in people giving the credit to someone.

That trust is a characteristic you want people to see in you and have them be able to follow you. As a leader you must have people that can trust you because without it, they will have a hard time following what you do. They will not be loyal if they cannot confide in you.

Loyalty is one of the next traits of being a leader.

Every leader must have people who are loyal to them because if you have no loyal followers, it will be impossible to be a leader. When I was younger for example, my friend would get all of us out and I realized that he could only do this because he had our loyalty. Loyalty in the sense that we trusted each other and could rely on each other if we needed anything. I believe that loyalty is a big part of the characteristics of a leader.

These are characteristics that I believe make a leader. All these characteristics come together, and I feel make up the authenticity factor of a leader. Authenticity is one of the characteristics that I believe a leader has. A leader is honest and with that authenticity is a factor that comes in. Authenticity is about what you do when no one is really looking. How you can do something and not expect something back from that service or favor that you did.

In this day and age so many people do things expecting something out of it, whether it be recognition or a favor for later.

Authenticity is a trait a good leader has because, that leader understands that they will usually not get anything in return. They understand that doing things because you must and out of your heart and generosity is what truly makes a leader.

My mother told me as a child, “if you are going to do something for someone, don’t expect anything in return.” That has stayed with me my whole life and I think that is what helped me through a lot of things. People nowadays love to do things or perform acts of kindness for attention or for a favor in return. Authenticity is hard to find nowadays, and I believe that this is another trait that shows who a leader is and who a follower is.

Being a leader is not always about who is in charge but rather who will be able to take the lead. Growing up you see who is capable and who is not of leading and without one trait it is hard to keep the reputation of having the others. Being a leader and not a follower is something I have always grown up thinking about and I don’t think it will ever leave my conscience.


(Read all the pieces in This I Believe; featured image from John Shaibu)

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