The nature of leadership

Moku-hanga print “Where I go, anyone can go”.
Moku-hanga print detail “Where I go, anyone can go”.

In the deepest sense, following and leading are part of the same. There cannot be one without the other.

When the image for this print came, for some reason I saw the rabbit as a leader of sorts—as a character others wanted to be or follow—a character that seemed to know something that I did not. But as I was making the print the rabbit didn’t seem the sort to want or need anyone to follow him so the question became what the rabbit knew and why the leaves were following him. At the same time I knew the rabbit was having a conversation with a pair of otters and I was curious about the content of their conversation.

I don’t often talk about where the text comes from or what it means to me but in the few conversations I have with those who ask, I find meaningful discourse. After all, the last thing I want to do is explain away a meaning or take away someone else’s interpretation of the work, but I did want to expound a little on the how I come to the text as part of the creative process.

Words by themselves are precise, but they can also be broad and open when put together in certain ways. They have the capacity to resonate naturally or to simply stand intellectually—both have their place, but my work is not work of the intellect. So when I put words together I strive for them to be broad, sincere and true.

As I contemplate the nature of leadership or “the capacity to lead” I cannot separate it from the act of following. Each has its own positive and negative aspects. I could easily have chosen to use the word “follow” for instance, but that word highlights our differences and creates separation. In the deepest sense, I think quality leadership arises from a sense of sameness—and so came the words: “Where I go, anyone can go.”

The words are not: “Anyone can go where I go.” which subtly implies a permission of sorts, nor are the words: “Anywhere I go, you can go.” The subtlety of text is strong, it strengthens the old addage *think before you speak*. What I’m saying here by no means exhausts the meaning of the text I wrote or the image I created or its combination. I am grateful that even as I made the print, I can still return to it and find new meaning.

I hope you can too.

Find out more about the print here.