When I walk the Manhattan Streets with my dog, I often get asked for directions, most commonly, how to get to the subway. I guess I have one of those friendly faces. Or they figure if I’m with a dog I probably live in the neighborhood.

Most often I tell them the way- two blocks west on 23rd…if you want to go downtown cross the street. Don’t forget to change trains at Union Square I say, and send them off on their merry way.

Occasionally, if someone seems totally perplexed, and if it’s not too out of my way, I walk them to where they should go, or give them a head start…

Which leads me to my next thought: Is it better to give directions, or is it better to lead someone someplace? Think of it as a variation on give a person a fish they eat that day, teach them how to fish they eat for a lifetime…

Do you ask for directions?

or

Do you ask to be led?

I know I am a directions person. And I like to get my hands dirty. I like to put into action what I’m trying to do. I need to experiment. I think it comes down to being visual. I don’t really like to listen to things other than music. Can’t do audio books…I miss half the story…

And I certainly don’t want people doing things for me.

I don’t want people telling me what to do…

I like to read a variety of sources. I like to ascertain the pros and the cons. Then I formulate an opinion. I give myself the berth to allow my opinion to change over time…

But I am definitely not following the Pied Piper around.

I don’t jump on a bandwagon because it’s popular or on trend. I don’t see the need to do something just because everyone else is doing it.

I like to be in charge of my thoughts and actions.

I know I am far from perfect. But I own my choices.

Yet I realize that there are people who want to be told what to do. People who want to be led.

I don’t really understand this point of view…

Why do people want to be led? Why do people want to follow?

And don’t tell me it’s because everyone can’t be leaders. That’s a cop out of an answer. You can create your own path without being a “leader”.

So…

Your assignment today:

Give me the pros to my con…

63 thoughts on “Give and Tell

  1. I like being my own boss and, like you, I don’t follow the crowd. Herd mentality is a reality. Everyone, including me, is a follower to some degree. That’s a good thing because otherwise there would be chaos. When I need direction, I go within, or call my investment advisor. Occasionally, my wife can be helpful. Ha ha.

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  2. I can’t add any pros to your cons, because I don’t want to be led by the nose, either. Unless I’m first learning something, I’m good with going my own way. I suppose some people find comfort in being told everything about what to do, but I don’t.

    I often get asked for directions, too. It was really strange being asked for directions when I was in Inverness, Scotland…

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      1. Apparently. I guess I also looked like a local in Chicago. People asked me for directions there, too.

        And people have asked me to use their cameras to take their pictures in front of the grand thing in Colorado, London, and Iceland. I guess I look approachable.

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  3. I can understand how a pretty lady walking a cute doggie would often be asked for directions.
    I get asked directions too, by the tourists here.
    I keep my directions very concise and brief. And I repeat them twice, sometimes three times, until I can tell my the body language of the tourists that they have confidently understand my directions. 🤗🌷🌼

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    1. Is it because they’re scared they don’t know, or a sense of comfort? I realize this is mainly rhetorical, but interesting to think about

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      1. I personally, am a visual person. Sometimes, it seems that the words just swim around in their heads, but if I give them a visual start, then they are on their way to understanding.

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    1. Which begs the question…is there a difference between following societal rules and norms said to be necessary in a society/civilization and following the herd?

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  4. Herd mentality is an individual reacting to what is typically a stressful or chaotic scene happening around them. They didn’t enter the scene with a plan to join in, it simply happens based on behavioral reactions. Perhaps, for some based on other personality and socialized traits, they are more prone to “following” in day to day life. The herd concept, or some speak of groupthink tends to be associated more with harmful actions rather than just jumping on the latest fashion craze or food trend. Does that make sense? And, personally I agree with many who have said that to some degree we all follow, but in general, especially as each year goes by, I want the lead, I want control!

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  5. I have always been “that person” everyone approaches for directions. Doesn’t matter where I am – I must have an approachable look.

    On leading or following, for me it depends. Sometimes I have decision fatigue and it’s easier to just trail along. Other times I am the rabble rouser questioning the line, the process, etc. and suggesting a more efficient solution. It really depends on my mood and coffee intake. 😂 But I always remember the advice a cruise director gave “cruises have lines for different things. Just because there is a line, doesn’t mean you have to be in it.” That advice has been incredibly helpful for many, many years. 😉

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  6. Directions are strictly based on a person’s learning style. If you are not an auditory learner you won’t process auditory directions as well as visual directions. It’s that simple. If you are a visual learner you will prefer landmarks, and if your best mode of learning is kinesthetic, having someone walk with you or show you the way will be most effective. It really doesn’t have anything to do someone doing things for you or being independent. It’s merely a learning strength. It’s a brain thing.

    I can tell you that we all learn and process information in multiple ways, however we each usually have one major strength. Im a visual learner. I find my way when driving using landmarks. I never read auditory books. I have to read in my head. Audio books distract me. Lectures cause me to daydream, unless I take notes. (As long as I am moving I can process information better). So my best modes of processing are visual and then kinesthetic. We all have our strengths.

    I would most likely do a combination of telling and showing someone directions. Mainly because they are strangers, otherwise I’d always show them because that’s how I process best.

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      1. Yes, but it was close. I was close as well. They often; go hand in hand. There is a lengthy learning style inventory that I used to give my students at the beginning of each year that was more detailed. It helped me individualize lessons to reach all their learning strengths. A quick test is to ask someone to describe their bedroom. A visual learner will usually look up to the right and see it before describing it to you. An auditory learner will repeat your question before answering, and need to hear her thoughts first, and a kinesthetic person will use her hands and body and move around, such as, “ Over here is my bed and way over is my…”.
        In my case I’ll look up first, see it and then start moving to areas of the room and physically showing where everything is.
        I’ve done this little test every year and I instantly know a child’s learning style. It’s amazing. You can really notice it in children because they are not inhibited. It also helped me key parents in. For instance some kids can’t study listening to music or sitting at a desk. Certain children learn better on their bed or on the couch. Fascinating stuff. But it does relate to how we take directions.

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      2. I think this is all fascinating. But I wonder how helpful it is, because in a job situation, is anyone going to assess your learning style when teaching you job basics? Or even college level? Imagine in a remote learning environment. I want everyone to learn, but at some point do we all need to adapt?

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      3. To a certain extent yes. But, What’s so successful about this is that once you identify a strength you can then develop strategies to improve the weaknesses. (Ways to take notes to improve auditory skills for a dominant verbal or kinesthetic child). There are brain exercises too. (Example having left handed people do things with their right hand and righties with their left to train the brain to use both sides more evenly. But it also helps students feel more comfortable with themselves. Moving through brain hemispheres improves strategies and can help to stay focused and organized. Most people shy away from vocations they are not comfortable doing. Learning styles makes them aware and broadens their scope and ability . Still, some scientists will work in a lab and invent while others will be out in the field. The task is to first teach children. To do that first you have to reach them. Once you can do that you can build upon that knowledge step by step. I’ll never fly an air plane so I wouldn’t get a job as a pilot. So there will be jobs all of us would never do. It’s a way of learning, understanding your best mode of learning and adapting. The older one gets the more you add to the mix.

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  7. To your question “Why do people want to be led?” … I think it comes down to how much you want to be involved in decision-making. With some things, I take the time to look at them from various perspectives before making a decision. Other things, I don’t have the interest or energy to do it. For example, deciding on a restaurant with a group of friends. I can be flexible on what type of food to eat, and in those cases I’m fine if someone else says, “Let’s go to this restaurant.” So my answer for your question is the level of interest-comfort-caring. If someone doesn’t have much of those, then they’re fine with someone else making the decision.

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  8. I always was asked for directions in Palm Springs. I must have looked like a local. I visited my brother in Greenwich and my husband and I were taking the train into NYC. Several people stopped and asked us for directions on where to stand on the platforms, which train to take, etc. We were totally clueless wanting to know the how to’s from them. I prefer directions or to figure it out for myself. I’ve never been part of the herd.

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  9. I also am also asked for directions. I have cars pull to the curb to ask me directions; cyclists ask me how to find the Trans Canada Trail when I am riding; and whether I lead or give directions usually depends on what I am doing. If I am busy I just give them verbal assistance.

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  10. There you go again, another long, rambling complicated question spilling out uncontrollably from one simple thing.

    If I’m asked directions, I give them. Several times if necessary. am polite, cheerful, concise and accurate. After that my job is done. I’m a passer-by. I’m not a guide, a care-worker or a life coach. If the can’t understand, it’s not my fault.

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  11. Sometimes I’d love it if someone would direct me if it’s close enough. But I wouldn’t expect them to walk far. Mainly I think it’s a problem with remembering what someone says if the instructions involve many different steps. I got lost on a mountain trail once because I forgot some steps.

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  12. I think some people dont want to be leaders because they are afraid or they are doormats. You cant be a leader if people are walking all over you. I suck at directions. Dont ask me.

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  13. Here’s the thing: studies have found that most women navigate by landmarks. I know I do. No one around here walks to get anywhere, but people always ask for driving directions. On at least two occasions, I led people to their destinations, including a hospital clinic, because it was clear to me that they’d get lost just following my directions. Both were very appreciative not because they’re followers, but because they didn’t get lost.

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    1. It depends where I am. My part of Manhattan is a grid, so I say how many streets. But in the village, as it’s confusing….I kind of mix it up

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  14. People who organize events, run scout troops, teach, create, instigate change seem to have an inclination towards leadership. I did some of those things but on occasion I want someone else to figure it out, to organize, to decide. I’m not a follower but it seems to me there is not a lot of middle ground? C

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