Pirate or Ninja?

Are you a leader or a follower?

My title is not an equivalent question to today’s prompt (“Are you a leader or a follower?”) but it’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the question. I would always ask students to introduce themselves on the first day of classes, and I wanted them to tell me their names, hometowns, major and year, why they were taking the class, and whether they were a pirate or ninja.

On the rare occasion when they’d ask me, I’d say I was a pirate when teaching but a ninja when directing (since I didn’t want to be visible onstage, and instead have all the attention focused on my actors).

Back to the prompt: I was a very shy kid, and am still somewhat introverted. At the same time, I can be quite extroverted, depending on the circumstances. During the trip to Germany last year, I had no problem walking up to people, saying, “Entschuldige, sprechen Sie English?” and asking for needed directions or whatever. Maybe it was because I would never see them again.

I have found recently that, when I try to lead through collaboration, things often get bogged down. So when I’m organizing certain things, I tend to put myself out front of the decision-making. We can talk something to death, or we can decide (or I can decide) and we can move on. “What do you think?” can be the death of progress.

Probably the best answer comes from what I used to tell prospective parents and students on campus, and this is true: I attended three major research universities (Temple, OSU, and UC Berkeley) for my degrees (BA, MA, PhD), but chose to teach at a small campus. As the only full-time theatre person, I made all the decisions about play choice, classes taught, etc. In that case, I definitely can claim to be more leader than follower.

Published by stephenschrum

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts; interested in virtual worlds, playwrighting, and filmmaking. Now creating a podcast called "Audio Chimera."

One thought on “Pirate or Ninja?

  1. From Mike Judge’s *Idiocracy *”Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.” If it’s a survival situation then I’ll be the leader. Anything casual or social then just let me do my own thing. 99.999% of the time I don’t trust anyone enough to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

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