Be a Leader and a Follower - Advice from Grandma Rose


My grandmother, Rose Ludwig, was an extremely wise woman. She lived to be almost 93 years old and had a great deal to teach all of us about life, love, and relationships. She studied psychology and was interested in what makes people tick - especially when it came to matters of the heart. She was happily married for 45 years, so I guess, she knew what she was talking about.

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We were very close. One day she said to me, “In every relationship one person is a leader and the other is a follower and it is important that these roles should be able to shift and each person is able to switch places.”  The other day it occurred to me that this is an important theory in regards to how we do our work.

When we show up at someone’s home to shoot a portrait or a snapshot, we have a plan. We have spoken with your family ahead of time and have a structure in mind. We have a system, one that we have carefully created. However, when we get there if the kids want us to know something other than what we have planned, we follow their lead. We let them guide us- we let their truths be the path. We listen carefully to the child, to their needs and to the needs of all of those involved.

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The listening can become almost meditative. It is about openness, feeling, sensing and then following. Listening is an empowering act. And ultimately one from which you can derive tremendous knowledge and power. If you listen carefully enough you will know the answers to make the best decisions. One has to be able to follow in order to lead well.

This is important in parenting as well. We are our best selves when we listen, when we take in and absorb what our children need. In listening, we are empowered to be the best parents we can be.

I remember when my grandmother gave me her advice about being a leader and a follower.  I thought, who would want to ever be a follower? She was right though, and I have come to understand that sometimes following is the clearest path to leadership and to our truth.