Follow the Leader

“I will be the leader!” my 7-year daughter, Ella, announced as she stood up and put her hands firmly on her hips.

We were headed to our backyard to collect a variety of leaves for her school science project. I began walking toward the door with my younger daughter and husband and noticed Ella standing back as she held the door open.

“Hey! I thought you were the leader!” I exclaimed, assuming she would be dashing ahead.

“I am,” she said. “I have to make sure everyone gets outside OK.”

The leaf collecting was going well and we were gathering quite a sample of the many varieties in our backyard. We were scurrying around from plant to plant, plucking leaves, when I saw Ella running inside.

“Wait! Where are you going? I thought you were the leader?” I asked.

“I am,” she said. “I have to make sure everyone takes a break and has a snack.”

She came back with a banana, a bag of gummy bears and a fruit strip. We stopped our leaf collecting to eat our snack in the grass. We sat with leaves piled around us. The wind began to carry some off. Ella took off running toward the house.

“Come back!” I called after her. “We need to finish collecting these leaves. Are you still the leader?”

“I am,” she said. “I’m getting some bags to put the leaves in so they don’t blow away.”

We held up our bags of leaves, feeling accomplished. Ella thanked us as we handed them to her.

My husband, younger daughter and I felt like we did it all ourselves. The truth is that all along we had been led. We were empowered by someone who made our work easier — who looked after us to make sure we arrived at the right place, who brought gummy bears for sustenance and the necessary supplies when the wind picked up.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.