I remember being a little kid and, in my naive simplistic eyes, dividing grown ups into black and white categories: moms and dads, rich and poor, cool and cranky… the categories went on and on. Among them was bosses and employees.
It was only somewhere between high school and college that I began to understand that between those two categories I defined in my childhood, there is another, much more important one: the leaders.
In college, I was taught through lessons the difference between a leader and a boss. I took my notes, I passed my tests, and I knew the importance of that difference. But, after graduation, it’s in observing people who lead that I learn the most.
Kim Namjoon is one of those people.
WHO HE IS
Being only 23, and the leader of 6 other boys who have taken the world by storm, breaking records, earning the trust of millions of fans, has made me rethink my perspective of what makes a good leader.
In case you have been sleeping under a rock for the past few months and don’t recognize him, Kim Namjoon (a.k.a RM), is a Korean rapper/musician, leader of the Korean group BTS. If you know me, you know I love BTS. And I don’t love them just because. Although I don’t want to delve too much into the reasons why the group is amazing (I would probably get too carried away), the truth is, one of the biggest reasons why they are indeed great is because they have an incredibly talented leader guiding them through their career.
There’s no need to say much. We can all imagine what it would be like when 7 young people barely out of school get together to make music and become performers. How much conflict there must have been, how much insecurity and self hatred and fighting. All we have to do is think back to those group projects in school to know it’s not easy.
Now imagine doing that for 4 years, whilst somehow growing into friends that are like family, allowing everyone to have their say and their input, and, in the end, making beautiful songs that relate to every single one of them as well as their fans.
A boss cannot do that. A good leader can.
A REMARKABLE WEAKNESS
On more than one occasion, in songs and outside of them, Namjoon has discussed the fact that he has trouble loving himself. As an outsider, I first found it incredible – how someone who has done so many amazing things cannot find it in himself to love who he is. But the truth is, we are ruthless toward ourselves, aren’t we? Always expecting the impossible.
But you know, sometimes
I really really hate myself
To be honest, quite often
I really hate myself
When I really hate myself, I go to Dduksum
I just stand there with the familiar darkness
With the people that are smiling
And beer, which makes me smile
Coming to me softly
Fear, which holds my hand
– RM “Reflection”
Surprisingly, this unfortunate fact about Namjoon was what connected with me. I found in him a reflection of myself (pun intended).And a chance. As he began his journey to love himself, I looked at him and thought ‘if someone who has accomplished so much and is so kind hearted and real can find it hard to love himself, then even though I feel the same, maybe I have and will accomplish great things too.’
And it’s the simple fact that I can see myself in him that changes the whole way in which I see leadership. Because a leader who is relatable is one that does not keep a distance, does not inspire others by appearing to be always strong, does not put himself in a different position than those he is guiding. No, a leader who is relatable stands with those he leads as an equal, but knows how to nurture strengths and work on weaknesses. Because he knows his own, and he wears them on his sleeve to serve as an example.
Weaknesses can be worked on, strengths can always be stronger.
And, in doing so, it’s as if he’s looking at me and saying ‘if I can do it, so can you. And I love you, even if some days it’s still hard to love me too.’
Thank you for leading me towards believing in myself, Kim Namjoon.
There are many great leaders in this world, Namjoon is just one very personal choice. Is there a leader who inspires you in your daily life? Let’s talk about it in the comments bellow!