The small, five-year-old girl worked hard to open the large, elaborately carved door. Then she maneuvered in front of it to keep it open. After waiting and listening for awhile, she confidently proclaimed into the emptiness, “Get out of there! You’re not supposed to be in there!”Three or four young boys had entered the room a minute earlier during a game of hide-and-seek. Their parents were among many others attending a reception in a room down the hall so they were entertaining themselves. Everything had been fine.

She tried again. “Get out of there! You’re not supposed to be in there!” She waited. Hearing nothing and seeing nothing, she sounded even more urgent the third time: “Get out of there! You’re not supposed to be in there!”

Now visibly frustrated, she stomped away and the door closed behind her. Within a minute, a parent appeared, opened the door, and simply questioned “Boys?” Would it surprise you to know that they instantly appeared at the door. I heard them run quickly. They didn’t hesitate at all.

What’s the difference? Were they deaf to their peer’s commands? In a way, yes. They didn’t view her as an authority figure so they didn’t need to listen. They could ignore her and didn’t imagine there would be any consequences for doing so.

What about us? How do we establish ourselves as authorities so people who should follow us do?