I still recall one of my first opportunities to lead. I was five and had been initially placed in the “slower” first-grade group. No tests were given, it was just assumed since I was their very first African American student in 1965. But thanks to a persistent Mom and an open-hearted teacher, I would be asked to read to the class. After that Mrs. Patton asked me to help some of the students in the class who struggled with their reading.
My experience with Mrs. Patton has taught me a crucial lesson in leadership: that it is never too early to start. At the tender age of five, I was exposed to taking responsibility for people and ensuring that their reading improved. Even though I did not understand it at the time, in hindsight, it has influenced my life’s work. This is why I encourage our community of Leaders at CLN to always involve the young with tasks and ask for their contributions.
Now ask yourself: Who is the Mrs. Patton in your life? Who was older than you but gave you a chance despite the odds? Are you helping anyone younger than you to step up to the plate? I often wonder what would have happened if Mrs. Patton wasn’t kind or encouraging.
Today, I ask you not to miss the chance to mentor a future leader. Start now.
Excited about your leadership,
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