A Little Fellow Follows You

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. 

So live up to it. Walk the right path. Show the little fellows who they can be…by being who you know you can be.

P.S. This was originally sent on Oct 23 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”