Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scoutmaster Mike: The "Special" Challenges of Leadership

One of the things that Scout leaders try to instill in their boys is the ability to lead each other. Really good Scoutmasters know that they can step back and just let their boys do what they need to do, including stepping back and letting the boys cannibalize each other (within reason, of course; we don’t want to see boys get hurt or be deliberately malicious to one another).

Last week, my son, Nick, had the experience of doing his presentation “without a net” so to speak, and as I was watching him present to the youth, I decided I had two options. The first would be that I could do crowd control, and do the inevitable “hey, pipe down and listen” that is inevitable with 12 year old boys… or I could step out of the equation and let a little bit of “tough love” settle on the experience. After about ten minutes of the first approach, I decided that I really was doing a disservice to these boys having to always be there and shout them down to pay attention, so I decided to announce to them that I’d be outside if they needed me. In other words, I was going to leave them to their own devices for a bit.

Well, as you might guess, I was outside for about five minutes, when out comes my son and looks at me, pleadingly “will you please tell [fill in the blank] to sit still and pay attention?!” It was quite an interesting thing to see, my son coming out and being exasperated at having to try to hold the other scouts attention… the same issue I deal with every sing week (LOL!). I don’t want to make this sound trivial, because I could tell he was frustrated, and a little bit angry at how things were going, but I also had to let this transpire this way because it was a valuable lesson in leading others.

What I decided to do from this experience was to have every boy be in the situation where they would have to present to each other what they were working on, with the idea that I would be there for the first few minutes to help set the tone, but also to know that I would step out after I was finished. This gives the boys a very clear message… if you want to act boisterously and disrespectfully to your fellow scouts, don’t be surprised if they treat you the same way.

This week, another boy will be center stage, and he will have a presentation to make to help the boys meet their requirements and advance in rank. The next week, another boy will be responsible, and so on and so on. It’s my hope that these rotating presentations will have a “calming” effect on the boys, because everyone will have walked a mile in each other’s shoes :).

Tuesday's Scoutmaster Minute:

Jim Rohn once said: “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons!”

Too often, we think that we can just do something at the spur of the moment. We can ace a test we haven’t studied for, we can make a lot of money in a short amount of time, we can carry a large boulder a great distance, but none of these things can happen without preparation. Sometimes, the preparation makes things easier than they would otherwise be.

We may find putting away ten dollars every day for forty years to matter very little, only to be surprised that that $10 a day could be equal to $1,000,000 40 years later (general rules of compound interest and a mderate 8% rate being used here ;) ). Earning $1,000,000 in a single year, though, or even less time, may be next to impossible.

We may not be able to carry a 1,000 pound load of rocks on our back, but we can carry one or two pounds of rocks several hundred times with great ease. Each of these shows the benefit of discipline and good habits in the achieving of long term goals.

At some point, we will not be able to do the big lift or get the big reward if we have not diligently been preparing for that day. In the end, we can prepare to succeed, or we choose to not prepare, and thus prepare to fail.

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