It was the second grade. I was the established class clown by then. And I was about to experience my first leadership moment.
I was, in fact, the class clown all the way through school, and the thing I always found ironic was that from grade 1 to grade 8, I was constantly in trouble for my snappy comments during class, often getting N’s in conduct (Not Satisfactory) and one time even getting paddled by the principal. #forrealz
Then from my freshman year to my senior year in high school, I was a big hit by both my classmates and my teachers, and ended up winning a senior superlative award for “Wittiest” my senior year. Go figure.
So I was in the second grade and I was looked to as the kid in class that would happily sacrifice his conduct grade for a good joke when the time was right. Or if the teacher needed to be tricked. I remember it was a Tuesday and we were supposed to take a test on Thursday. And no one wanted to take the test. We were also off school on Friday, which all of us in the class knew well but as we were about to learn our teacher did not.
“I’m trying to decide if we should take the test on Thursday or if you guys need a little more time and we should take it on Friday,” he said. For a few minutes everyone just kind of looked at him as if to say, “Woah, wait…you don’t know we’re off on Friday?”
This is the moment I remember vividly. The teacher had turned to write something on the board and I could see several of my classmates about to correct his error. I was sitting in the front (probably because I had been moved there so the teacher could keep me in check, otherwise I never would have been sitting in the front) and I turned to the class and put my hands up and nodded my head up and down ever so slightly, indicating, “I’ve got this”.
So I start working on convincing the teacher that Thursday is a very bad day for the test. I’m very careful not to say Friday is a good day for the test. That’s very important. I don’t want to lie ;) I talk to him about other things going on at school on Thursday, about how much material we’d have to learn by then, etc. I’m laying it on thick and I think just to shut me up he says, “Ok, ok, we won’t have the test on Thursday, I get it.”
“You’re sure we’re not having it on Thursday? I mean, you promise right because otherwise we’ll have to start studying immediatley and…”
“Yes, Jeff! I promise.”
I thank him and we start working on that day’s lesson. A few minutes later he says, “Ok guys, so we’ll have the test on Friday…”, and about 30 hands immediately go up. He calls on a girl in the back and she say, “But we’re off school on Friday!” And he looks at her for a moment, obviously realizing that we are indeed off on Friday. Then he looks at me, frowns and says, “Now I get it. Well done, ok, so the test will be on Monday.”
And the entire class cheered. They picked me up on their shoulders and marched through the halls of the school, telling everyone they saw about the amazing feet that I had just accomplished and singing, “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” On Friday when we were off school they held a parade on the school field and I gave a big speech about what leadership means and my teacher was there and pinned a ribbon on me.
Ok, so that last part didn’t happen, but they did cheer. And it was at that moment that I felt what it was like to be a leader and I haven’t forgotten it since.