And Finally

Judging by the emails I get from readers, the jokes at the end of the newsletter are always very popular. Well, today there is no joke – Last week I discovered what follows, and I believe it’s one of the best poems I have ever read. I hope you enjoy it too, and take the message to heart. It gives me  a lump in the throat every time I read it.

John Wooden began coaching basketball in 1932. When his son was born around 1939, a friend sent him a picture with a poem on it, which he hung in his home so he might see it every day. The picture that accompanies the poem is a man on a beach whose son runs behind him, playing in his footsteps in the sand. The poem, which Wooden memorized and liked to give as a gift to other people, went as follows:

A careful man I want to be —
a little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
for fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes.
Whatever he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be —
that little chap who follows me…
He knows that I am big and fine —
And believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see —
that little chap who follows me…
But after all it’s easier,
that brighter road to climb,
With little hands behind me —
to push me all the time.
And I reckon I’m a better man
than what I used to be…
Because I have this lad at home
who thinks the world of me.

It’s a poem every dad should think about today. You don’t have to memorize it as Wooden did, but you better internalize the message. Your sons and your daughters follow behind you. They see everything you do. If you go astray, so too will they. They believe every word you say—which is a power that comes with incredible responsibility. You cannot escape their eyes. You cannot not be their example.