HARLINGEN — Allen West stood at the front of the auditorium and held on to something he carries with him everywhere he goes.

It was a set of three-by-five index cards.

Written on those cards is more than 20 years of knowledge gained from his military and political careers.

West, a former Florida Congressman and retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, shared words of advice with more than 200 cadets yesterday at Marine Military Academy in Harlingen.

“What you end up finding in life is that most people don’t plan to fail, but they fail to plan,” West said to the cadets during the presentation.

His goal was to help the cadets become successful leaders, not just at the academy, but in life.

During the presentation, West discussed his five C’s of leadership — courage, competence, commitment, conviction and character.

MMA Cadet 1st Lt. Cameron Daniel, 18, believes West’s presentation showed the cadets how a leader is really supposed to be with everyone around them.

“I thought it was a great experience and he really kept everyone’s attention,” Daniel said. “I love the core values he talked about and I’m going to keep those in my mind as I keep going.”

West described MMA as a “very unique and beautiful jewel.”

“These young men at the academy, when you look into their eyes, you see something different and this is what we need to be fostering,” West said after the presentation. “These are the future leaders of the United States.”

He not only left with the index cards he was carrying — he also left with a statuette of the Iwo Jima Monument gifted by MMA.

“The original cast model of the Iwo Jima Monument (is here) and one of the people who raised the flag is buried right here,” West said while expressing his pride in the MMA. “These kids are the guardians of that history and that legacy.”

ALLEN WEST’S FIVE C’S OF LEADE

ALLEN WEST’S FIVE C’S OF LEADERSHIP

1. Courage

2. Competence

3. Commitment

4. Conviction

5. Character