By Patrick Finnegan

In the spring of 2009, during the research phase of the Integritas Project, I had the opportunity to sit in on a leadership class being taught at the Naval Academy. The topic that day concerned a struggle very familiar to midshipmen, but relatively foreign to students in most other institutions: the issues that arise around peer leadership.

Midshipmen in the class were asked to discuss the internal struggles they went through when a classmate of theirs was promoted to a position of authority over them and conversely when they were elevated over their friends. One moment they had been peers, equals, and the next they were responsible for acting in a way which might incur their friend's resentments or opposition.

I suddenly recalled a memory of a childhood incident in my life which I hadn't thought about in close to fifty years. Since I had been invited to participate in the class, I told the following story of being a little boy and being asked to grow up. I was recording the class that day for my own notes and recorded the following "Monster Story" which I share with you now.

It is perhaps a kind of personal human account that might seem silly on the surface but sometimes when we take the risk to tell something seemingly commonplace and unremarkable about ourselves, we actually give others permission to see meaning in their own stories. After that class, one young Midshipman approached me and earnestly asked me if I could make a copy of the recording for him. It was clear he had found meaning in it. Click below to hear the audio file and see what you think.