In the fourth round of a national spelling contest in Washington, eleven-year-old Rosalie Elliot, a champion from South Carolina, was asked to spell the world “avowal”. Her soft Southern accent made it difficult for the judges to determine if she had used an a or an e as the next to last letter of the word.
They deliberated for several minutes and also listened to tape-recording playbacks, but still they couldn’t determine which letter had been pronounced. Finally the chief judge, John Lloyd, put the question to the only person who knew the answer.
He asked Rosalie, “Was the letter an a or an e?”
Rosalie, surrounded by whispering young spellers, knew by now the correct spelling of the word. But, without hesitation, she replied that she had misspelled the word and had used an e.
As she walked from the stage, the entire audience stood and applauded her honesty and integrity, including dozens of newspaper reporters covering the event. While Rosalie had not won the contest, she had definitely emerged a winner that day.
We often think that who we are determines what we do. Equally true, what you do today will determine, in part, who you are tomorrow.