The Goofus and Gallant Approach to Greatness

Recently, I’ve become a fan of Instagram. One of the accounts I follow features Harlow, a stately Weimeramer and Indiana, an adorable Dachshund, who are best friends and a shining example of model canine behavior (@harlowandsage). The two of them lie peacefully on the couch, gaze adoringly at each other and maintain their composure at all times.
My sister’s dogs, Ruby and Domino, on the other hand, bark wildly whenever a rabbit (or other living creature) steps foot in the back yard, gnaw holes in imported rugs and engage in snarling wrestling matches on the floor.
The stark difference between them reminds me of Goofus and Gallant, two characters who were featured in Highlights, the children’s magazine that my sisters and I had a subscription to when we were growing up. Every month, the cartoon series would illustrate how the boys behaved differently in the same situation. Riding the school bus, for example: Goofus hogs his seat. Gallant makes space for someone else to sit down. On the playground: Goofus bosses his friends around. Gallant asks: What do you want to do next?
So what does that have to do with us? Well, most of us have behaviors we want to change. We want to become a better version of ourselves, to adopt the habits of greatness. But caught up in a life of hard-wired routine and nonstop activity, we don’t take the time to consider how to consciously put those behaviors into action. So what if we started with the behavior that’s not so great and then did the opposite: What would the Goofus and Gallant version of us do?
  • Goofus repeatedly checks email on his phone during the team meeting/conference call/family dinner. Gallant knows the greatest gift he can give to others is his undivided attention and puts his phone away so he won’t be tempted to look at it.
  • Goofus scarfs down two slices of pizza with extra cheese for lunch, even though he knows he’ll get indigestion and feel sluggish the rest of the afternoon. Gallant orders chicken with kale and brown rice so he’ll have high energy and focus for the client meeting.
  • Goofus beats himself up for mistakes he made in the past and feels embarrassed that he hasn’t accomplished what he thinks he should have by now. Gallant trusts that his life is unfolding perfectly even if it doesn’t look like it sometimes and focuses on feeling gratitude and appreciation for the lessons he’s learning.
  • Goofus worries constantly about whether he can meet the deadline/make payroll/deliver what the client asked for. Gallant trains himself to focus on what he can control and to take action instead of sitting there worrying.
See how much fun this is?! Now it’s your turn…