Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

How long do you think we should wait? #leadership

It was busy at the gym. The third of January. Everyone’s best intentions still intact. 

I had done an hour’s workout as is my usual for a Tuesday. Admittedly, I had regressed my set a little. Wouldn’t want to break myself. Need to wake up the muscles gently for 2023 after two days of rest. Two days of seizing up in shock at the fact I had taken a rest, more like. I needed a good stretch out. 

Instead of a traditional post-workout cooldown, I went to Yoga. There’s nothing like a five-breath downward dog sometimes. I got my mat and found a wee space in the back row. Everyone was lining up ready for the off. Someone commented that it was weird that the instructor wasn’t there. 

From the Child’s Pose, I stretched out my fingers as far in front of me as I could get them. Forehead on the floor. Still no instructor. I gave my vertebrae a chance to come up and down off the mat one at a time. And still no sign.

Someone went to see where he was. He wasn’t anywhere. 

“How long do you think we should wait?” someone asked. 

I was desperate for there to be a class. Desperate. But as the burliest, least flexible and most rubbish at yoga person in the room, I was in no position to step into leadership. 

In this leadership vacuum, what would happen? 

Someone said, “Shall we start with some breathing?”

As the haun-knittit nature of the session became apparent, the three male members of the class left. And a couple of women took up their mats and walked. 

But the breathing thing was as close to a plan as we had. And as the breathing turned to gentle sun salutations, it turned out that this girl probably was the best at yoga in the room. So we went with it. 

Some downward dogs, some planks, some legs up and down and even a few chaturangas and a couple of cobras. Then some balancing. Then some floor stuff. There was a questionable decision by some: to give headstands a go. I opted for a kind of weird knees on elbows stretch and balance which seemed less likely to generate any paperwork or insurance difficulties for anyone. Then some more breathing to finish.  

Fabulous. And such a relief not to have the crushing disappointment of no yoga when I had so much wanted to have a proper stretch after my recent month of rundays. 

We were given coffees in lieu of an instructor, so that was nice. 

But all the while I was thinking about leadership and how the election of our leader came about. 

I don’t think she was particularly power crazy and keen to take charge – but she wanted to do some yoga like the rest of us. There was a lot of looking around the room hopefully at each other, waiting for someone to crack and take up the mantle. 

Then there were the few who left before they had the chance to try out the new leader, or to hear about the compensatory coffee: it was too much of a risk, too much of a potential waste of time; might as well go into the gym and do your own thing. 

Then there were considerations about the wisdom of it all. What if a headstand had resulted in a broken femur? Where would the responsibility lie? If you follow a leader who breaks you – but you followed them – is it their fault or yours? Lemmings and all that. 

I think that this is probably how leaders should be chosen. A group of people have the same goal. The person best placed to lead, in terms of ability and experience, looks around and thinks that honestly, they are in fact the best person to lead the group. So, they start to lead the group. The group are happy – and if they are not, they can leave. At the end, everyone is happy and gives the leader a genuine round of applause and personal thanks, as their sacrifice for the benefit of the group is appreciated. 

“How long do you think we should wait?” 

It’s a good question. Hopefully someone competent and willing is at hand. Maybe it is you. 

Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash

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