Leadership Lessons from a First Grader

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Darby and Max
Max and I in elementary school

When I was in the fourth grade, my brother, Max, started to go to the same elementary school as I did. He was in the first grade.  Before he went to a small pre-school and kindergarten program at a nearby church.  Class sizes were small and everybody knew and loved Max.  But for whatever reason transferring to the larger elementary school freaked him out.  He dreaded riding the bus to school and didn’t want to go to school at all. Everyday was major drama where he cried and clung to my mom or dad.  I was the lucky person who was responsible for getting Max on the bus and then getting him to his classroom.  I remember getting off the bus with Max and walking him over to the first grade section.  I would see my friends on the older playground but I couldn’t go play with my friends before school started because I had to sit with Max and wait until the bell rang.  Some days were better with Max than others.  There were many days where I had to reassure Max everything would be okay as he sat there sobbing.  Whatever his reasons for being so upset were, I had to calm him down in order to get him to even go near his classroom.  While I did not understand what the big deal was, I had to get over my anger at him, because he was embarrassing and learn to empathize with Max.  There were some days I did not know what to expect and I had to learn to react to his moods.  One minute Max was perfectly fine, the next he was hysterical. I had to adapt quickly, learn to deal with the problem and think on my feet. I was responsible for my brother and I had to help him overcome his fears.  I learned how to be a leader with Max. I learned empathy, quick thinking, negotiating skills and how to get someone to do something they did not want to do.  Max showed me at a young age how even the littlest things can help shape you to be a leader.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Max was teaching me something while I was helping him.

One Comment on “Leadership Lessons from a First Grader”

  1. Where is Max now? You reminded me of my first grade experience when I had to walk over five kilometers to get to my school. And when I knocked off I had to wait for my elder brother in fourth grade because it was dangerous to go home alone.

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