I once read a book by a Rabbi, I forget the name of the book, but in it, he asked a powerful question,”What kind of person do you want to be?”
He used this simple question to help his children navigate life and their decision making. When they made choices that were wrong, displayed negative character, greedy, or ended with ill-intended consequences, he asked them that particular question.
Many times over, I have asked my children the same question– from the time that they were very small. I changed the word person to boy/girl/man /woman depending on what was appropriate at the time. They would typically answer me the same way: “I want to be a good person.”
“What does that mean?” I would ask.
“That I am kind, nice to my sister and help around the house,” might have been an answer on any given day.
I still ask my children the same question. Their answers are bolder and more solid now that they are older. It teaches them reflection and evaluation. Mistakes will always be made, the power is found in the evaluated mistake.
Equally as important, I ask myself, “What kind of person do I want to be?” or rather, “What kind of person does God want me to be.” When I honestly answer those questions, I become more aware of my current state and how I am leading myself. We all lead ourselves first.
The very wise Rabbi understood that we are always in a state of growth. That growth may be positive, towards a better version of ourselves, or negative, taking us further away from our desired self. He knew that by teaching his children to answer that simple question, he was helping them to become people of strong character with the ability to learn forward and take responsibility for their actions and choices.
I am very grateful for stumbling across that insightful Rabbi’s words so many years ago. He has created a ripple in the world.
What kind of person do you want to be?