Obstacles to Objectives

DSCN4484In an effort to “fix lazy” it dawned on me that one of the problems is that our young men, and I am not just talking about Scouts here, tend to get caught up in the obstacles rather than focusing on the objectives.  This bogs them down and they feel defeated.  They fail themselves in the mind before they can feel the success of completing a task.
In the last post I listed a few “rathers”.. they would rather freeze then change clothing, they would rather be cold and miserable than apply the training they have learned.  This is lazy and it is an attitude that someone will come to my aid.
This is also an inability to get past the obstacle and get to the objective.
The objective is the skill or the task or goal.  Lets take for example setting up a tent.  The tent does not change.  It is the same tent that they have set up many times, but insert an obstacle like snow and cold and now it is a whole new tent.  NO, it’s still the same tent.  The challenge is to get it set up.. the goal is to get the tent set up to get out of the elements, but in their mind they can’t do it because it is cold.  I was talking with one Scout about what they would have done had we hiked in at night.  Something we do 11 times a year.. but none the less.  He asked what we would have done, so I told him that we would have set up camp… just like we always do.  I asked him if he knew how to set up his tent, he said yes.  Then I told him that it’s no different setting it up in the dark than it is setting it up in the day light.  The tent is the tent.  Same poles, same grommets, same rain fly, same guy tie outs, same everything.  If you can set it up in your living room, you can set it up in the woods, the snow, the rain, and the dark.  He immediately found the obstacle rather than the objective.
I am finding this more and more with the Scouts that we have these days.  The look for the obstacles rather than focusing on the objectives.  This is the wrong way to think.
If we focus on the objective, we will negotiate the obstacles to get there.  The obstacles become the fun challenge that it takes to get the reward or success.
We have been talking about our up coming backpacking trip this summer.  The younger guys are doing a 50 miler, while the more experienced guys are going to do about 80.  When the PLC announced this immediately they thought about 50 miles of backpacking and not the adventure.  They failed to hear the part about 10 days of hiking, breaking up the mileage into reasonable chunks,  that anyone with a pair of legs could do.  They did not think about 10 days of being out with their buddies in the Olympics.. nope.. just the obstacles that would make it hard.
This we need to work on.. but it is the first part of fixing lazy.
What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to know.
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. i agree 100%. I find that some boys you can easily redirect and they will start to see the objective. It’s the boys that you can’t get redirected that is the tough challenge. How to get them to see the fun in the challenge and the accomplishment and not to dwell on the hardship. Being able to do that is something I am working on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that it is a matter of just staying the course and not wavering to the pressure of parents that are over protective. Set a standard and hold everyone to it. Do not accept less than the standard.
      Thanks for the comment. Keep plugging at it.. it works in the end.


  2. Great post! I think as a society we focus far to much on the “why not reasons” then the “why reasons”. When we encounter something hard we end up taking the path of least resistance and do nothing. I’m forever comparing my youth to the scene in “Bugs Life” when the line of ants are blocked by a stick and come to a grinding halt. I tell them that there is always an answer – they just need to look past the problem (I’ve had varying success with this approach). As frustrating as it is, repetitive reinforcement seems to be the only way to educate some Scouts. Hopefully they will eventually learn to “see the forest” and not the trees!


  3. Well, it is harder to set up a tent in the dark. That’s why we have headlamps and flashlights. It gets cold out, so we wear warm clothes. Rain Happens! There’s a saying from a John Wayne movie (so I’ve read): “Life is tough. It’s tougher when you’re dumb.” Add: “And it’s toughest when you’re deliberately dumb.”

    And, is not Scouts a place to fail safely? Let them fail. If your SPL is one of the lazy, he ought not be SPL. He’s the one to show them/remind them about not being dumb.


    1. Not harder… more challenging. Overcoming the challenge or obstacle is the point. Having the tools and skill to overcome requires learning and want to. Life is tough when you are dumb… I agree.. let them learn from mistakes.


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