Editorial

Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2010

Lessons in life: As told by a 5-year-old

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I’d like to think I’m smarter than a 5-year-old, but all too often, my own budding youngster reminds me I still have much to learn.

Just the other day, it happened again while getting her dressed for another day in pre-K.

She recalled a phrase she heard a peer say the day before. She knew, like they all magically do, that those words were not appropriate for the lips of little girls, but she repeated them anyway. Then, in an attempt to undo her indiscretion, she quickly followed the verbal misstep with a “But that wasn’t nice, was it, Mama?”

I used the opportunity to give my speech once again about how she should always choose to do right, no matter what others around her are doing.

“When you know someone is doing wrong, you have two choices,” I said. “Either you choose to do it, too, or you choose not to.”

And here is where she gave me a lesson.

“Actually,” she said clearing her throat, “you have three choices. You can also show them how to do what’s right.”

She had done it again. Just that fast, my 5-year-old had taken my common-sense lesson, a speech most of us have heard or given at some point or another, to another level. Even though I hadn’t thought of it that way before, it made sense.

Her conclusion brought to mind Fort Benning commander MG Michael Ferriter’s concept of Inspired

Leadership in that each and every one of us, no matter our age, rank or background, can contribute to society if we take the time to think about it. After all, small gestures can make a big difference.

There are, in fact, three kinds of people: those who choose wrong, those who quietly do right and those who take others by the hand and lead them toward greatness. Inspired by the lesson from my 5-year-old, I suggest we all make an effort to be the latter. Just imagine the impact that could be made if you resolve to exemplify the good and right things in life and bring someone else along with you.

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