As part of the requirements for participating in the city’s 20 Under 40 Program, I find myself having to prepare the first book report I’ve written since, I believe, Glenna Weaver’s 10th grade English class in 2001.

For my text, I’ve chosen a personal favorite, Sir Winston Churchill’s “My Early Life,” an autobiographical account that skims along the adolesence and young adulthood of the famed British prime minister.

During my daily readings, I happened across a passage that caught my eye, owing to the fact I had just reached the august age of 26 not a day before.

While I may have happened on this bit of wisdom too late, perhaps it may serve as a reminder to those among us who still have the prime of their days before them:

Twenty to twenty-five! These are the years!

(“Missed it by that much,” in my best Don Adams impression).

Don’t be content with things as they are.

(Reject complacency.)

The earth is yours and the fulness thereof. Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsiblities.

(Be prepared to take hold of what the world has in store for you, but realize the awesome responsibilities that come with those honors. Think a sense of Duty, capitalized for emphasis.)

Raise the glorious flags again, advance them upon the new enemies, who constantly gather upon the front of the human army, and have only to be assaulted to be overthrown.

(Do not shy away from a fight you know to be just and true; if you fight for justice you can never truly lose. Also, in most instances, those enemies and bullies will flee at the first signs of a dedicated resistance.)

Don’t take No for an answer.

(This should not require further explanation.)

Never submit to failure.


Do not be fobbed off with mere personal success or acceptance.

(Use what you have for the betterment of others, not just your own personal ends. We never succeed more than when we help others.)

You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.

(You will mess up. It may even be disasterous within your own little bubble world. But, everyone else has screwed up just as badly and lived to tell the tale. Churchill had Gallipoli, where over 200,000 Allied troops died during WWI; whatever you had will pale by comparison, I promise.)

She (the world) was made to be wooed and won by youth. She has lived and thrived only by repeated subjugations.

(Get out there and make something of yourselves. You won’t do anything just sitting here resting on your laurels.)


Well, there you have it, young people.

Go forth and do. Don’t fear failure, and know there are a host of us here standing with you at all times.