Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way

Success Through Taking Initiative

Stephen J. Lalla, LMNOP
5 min readOct 3, 2020


Photo by Dave Lowe from Unsplash

Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way. It was something that was literally drilled into me when I was in high school. I attended a Catholic Naval Junior ROTC high school, which meant the instructors were either Brothers of the Sacred Heart or Military Naval Officers and CWO’s. They were all men except for 2 laywomen. All else were no-nonsense gentlemen of close to middle age to ancient from a teenager’s viewpoint.

So khaki uniforms, shined shoes, polished brass, and short hair was the norm, and if not, you got demerits or were sent home. I was sent home once as my hair was touching my ears. My father was none too happy to leave work early to pick me up from school for an unscheduled emergency hair cut.

I remember walking down the halls of a crowded school as we were 1500 strong at that time. One of the Naval personnel would bark out loudly to clear a path for himself or to speed up the flow of foot traffic, “Gentlemen, Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Damn way.” Over time, we were as conditioned as Pavlov’s dogs. All it took was, “Gentlemen, Lead,” and a sea of young men in khakis parted like the Red Sea as he strode right through.

As I’d mentioned, it was Naval Junior ROTC. In college where I went, there was an Army ROTC program that I became affiliated with before joining the Army National Guard. It was not a surprise, as there was a lot more of the “Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way” uttered everywhere. By that time, I was thoroughly conditioned as I traversed my life. In the Army, the only other similar phrase uttered was “walk with a purpose.”

Decades later, I am still walking with a purpose, much to normal walking friends’ chagrin. You guessed it, the “Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of the Way still haunts my memories and resurfaces all the time but as of late, primarily in grocery stores.

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Let me explain. Grocery stores aren’t a trigger for me, but sometimes the people are.

Here’s what happens. In a grocery store, someone will be stopped in the middle of the aisle, looking at the 15 different…



Stephen J. Lalla, LMNOP

The Optimal Life, It’s Not Perfect, Just Better! I’ve been on a many decade quest to optimize my life in all areas and would love to help you do the same.