Author: Scoutmaster Jerry

The network

neckerchief2This weekend I spent the better part of it at the Area 1 of the Western Region Training Conference.  This was my second time going to the conference, last year I had to go as the “back up Course Director” and this year to certify as a Course Director.
During both of the conferences I have attended I began to understand the networking while at the conference is the key.  Last year as a back up and Assistant Scoutmaster for Program, I met many Wood Badge staffers that were all in the same boat.  Preparing for course.  Many of last years “Back ups” are Course Directors for 2017, and so am I.  So the Scouters I met last year are now once again in that boat together this year.
We learned a lot this year.. or maybe I was just paying more attention.  Again, it was the networking that made my weekend.  Sharing ideas and comparing notes about the small things that we do on course.  The content (Syllabus) is king and can’t be changed.. but there are little things that are unique to each course.  It was fun to talk about our courses.
During the conference there was also training for NYLT (National Youth Leader Training), Commissioners, Membership committees, and training committees.  It is a great opportunity to met folks in the training community and learn from folks that have a lot of experience and knowledge.
As I look at my goals for the coming year and some life goals, that network of people that share values, have similar goals in training, and have the ability to open doors and expand the network are important to me.  It’s not about schmoozing or greasing the skids to get what I want.  It is about networking and learning.  It is about finding the path and setting myself on the right course.  This is what we teach our Scouts as we model values and teach them life lessons that will open their doors and expand their networks.
Here are the last questions of the 20.  Find value in them.  Remember I am sharing my answers.  They are mine.. you need to find your own answers to these questions.  From that, find your passion, your vision.
I often tell participants at Wood Badge that they need to look at their vision as a blank check.  If you never had to worry about money, commitment, or your network, what would you do?  If nothing was going to get in your way, who would you be?
That is how I approach the 20 questions.  They should prove to enlighten you and help you find your path.. your vision.

16. What are my important roles in life?
Husband and Father are my most important roles. Son and brother are very important. Then everything else falls in line behind those.
Some other roles that are important are obviously, employee, friend, Scoutmaster, Trainer.
17. In each of those roles, what are my most important lifetime goals?
As a husband, I feel that being the best partner I can is important. What does that mean? Well, in the time of life that we are in now being present for my wife, making time for time together, and supporting one another’s passions makes me better at being a husband.
As the father of three grown kids, my role for them is still being an example. Supporting them as they develop in their adult lives. Being a good example with my wife of lasting love and marriage.
As a son, being there for my parents as they grow older. Maintaining a good relationship with them.
As an employee, I need to be loyal to my employer. As a goal, I need to keep my nose to the grindstone and effort my way to retirement.
As a friend, my goal is to just be friendly. I have to make sure that my friends know that I care for and love them.
As a Scoutmaster and Trainer, my goal is to be more effective in teaching. To do more mentoring and coaching.
18. In five years, what role do I see for myself in Scouting?
Doing more training and coaching. Perhaps a Commissioner. Not certain I am ready not to be a Scoutmaster. A lot can happen in 5 years. The trail that I am currently on though is leading me to more roles in the training world.
19. What would I really like to be and to do in my life?
I would love to be a public speaker. I think that I have something to offer and can communicate well.
I would love to travel with my wife. As she is not retiring for at least 5 to 8 years. Being a speaker would offer me a way to do something I am passionate about.
20. What are the most important values I use to guide and motivate my actions?
Honesty and Trust.

I hope that as we have gone through this you have learned more about you.  I know that as I have re looked and re written my 20 questions I have learned more about myself and the direction my life has gone and is going.  I was pleasantly surprised at the growth I have experienced since 2005.  As a life long learned and one that believes in the lessons we teach at Wood Badge the 20 questions and effort one puts into a purposeful and intentional life dedicated to making others better this exercise once again showed me value.  I hope it has done the same for you.
If you have not gone to Wood Badge, consider going.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

How are going to get there?

mapcompassBefore I set out on any journey whether it’s a backpacking trip or vacation to Disneyland it is important that I have a plan.  Pulling out the map I can identify places where I can get water, camp for the night, and see a great view.  On the way to Disneyland knowing what the flight times are and which hotel we are going to stay at is an important part of the trip.  How we get from point A to point B keeps me on track and focused in one direction.  For many of us removing the clutter and confusion from the journey makes it more meaningful and effective.
When we set our goals that lead us to our Vision we are setting way points that allow us to see the journey to the end.  The goals are the way that we see intermediate success that keep us moving in the right direction.  Even with set backs and challenges, when we set goals we can realize our vision.
So how are you going to get there?  You need to know where you are going first.  Identify your vision and share it with someone.  Figure out your mission that gets you to seeing your vision become real.  Then set a few goals that are relevant to getting there.
In Scouting we teach the use of SMART tools.  The goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based.  We will go into that in greater detail in a later post.  To illustrate the point of SMART tools though we can use a trip to the moon.
To get to the moon we need to set goals.  One goal may be to build a rocket ship.  We know when it is done when we can see a Rocket that is ready to launch.  It is a task that is attainable in that we have the smarts, technology, and materials to build the rocket.  The relevance of rocket is that we need it to get to the moon.. we can’t walk or drive there.  And we set a time line for when it needs to be finished.  Going to McDonalds would not be a good goal to getting to the moon.. it is not Specific or Relevant to the mission.
Think about John F. Kennedy when he shared his vision of getting to the moon.  He was dealing with “metals and materials that have not been invented yet”.  It was still attainable as it set the course for discovery.  It forced NASA to work to the vision by setting goals and a mission to set up the conditions to get to the moon.
So how are you going to get there?  Goal setting to support your mission.
Here are more questions from our 20.. as we get closer to number 20 you should start seeing a vision coming to life.

13. What can I do best that would be of worth to others?
Be a good example of living the Scout Oath and Law.. this is a daily chore.  Teach skills, outdoor, leadership, and continue to build character in our young men.
14. What talents do I have that no one else really knows about?
At times I have a rough exterior.  Not sure if it is talent, but I am very thoughtful in that I like my quiet time and reflection.  A talent that I have that may go unknown is that I studied Speech pathology in College and did two internships in speech therapy clinics.  Not sure that is talent either.. but it used to be a passion of mine.  Money got in the way though and changed my course in life.
I am pretty transparent.  What I am talented in is pretty much visible and known.
15. If there are things I feel I really should do, what are they?
I need to focus on the things that are most important to me and my family.  I need to wear less hats.  I need to prioritize better.  I need to write more.  I need to be more deliberate in how and what I teach the Scouts of the Troop.  I need to take a look at my original ticket from 2005 and rekindle some of the goals I had then and see if I can get closet to my vision.

Your road map to your vision starts here.  I hope that you are beginning to see a picture forming.  Are you seeing who you are and what you want your future to look like.  Are you looking at this through a Scouting lens or a personal lens.  At some point those two paths will.. must cross.  Is your journey taking shape?
Keep going.  Don’t give up.  We have 5 more questions to go.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Where are you going?

whereWell.. it’s election day here in the good ole’ US of A.  I promise I will not get political on you.  Your choice is your choice and that’s that.  I want to focus on the process.  The fact that in our country we are allowed to have the discussion.  And that come what may, it was done in a fair and civil way.
Many Americans are not happy with this election cycle, and to be honest, neither am I.  I am some what of history buff.  I believe that to know where we are going we have to know where we have been.  The good news as it relates to this election cycle is that as nasty as it has been, it’s not new in our national debate when it comes to elections in America.  Does that make it right?  No, but… the outcomes have always been civil.  A handshake and some sort of support in the end.  In the early elections the man that came in 2nd place was elected as the Vice President.  How do you think that would work today with the party system the way it has become?  Interesting thought though.
When in comes to our personal vision we need to know who we are, what we are, and where we want to go to make it real.  A simple road map of our lives that lead us to seeing our dreams come true.  It is what we want our lives to look like when we reach a destination.  Notice I did not say THE destination.  It’s about that journey and the destinations that we pass along the way that shape us, allow us to grow, impact our vision, and see it (the vision) to reality.
As we have watched the two primary candidates this year heat up in debate and try to convince us to vote one way or the other, what I have noticed is that I don’t clearly know where they want to go.  It has become more about attacking one another than articulating their visions.  Now I know you can visit their web sites, and tucked away in a speech somewhere there was a plan or outline for the future.. but I am sure you can agree that they have not done a great job of letting us in on their vision.
That is where the 20 questions come in for us.  We need to be clear about what our vision is so we can start creating that road map to get there.  The questions give us the outline or platform for us to distill our thoughts and focus on where we want to go.  I once heard a motivational speaker say “If you can see it.. you can be it”.  Knowing what and who you are gives you a better idea of where you want to go.  Your vision is the picture of what that looks like.
You do not have to eat the elephant all at once.  You may have a lofty vision that may take lots of time to come to fruition.  Set intermediate goals to get there.  Those are those stops along the way.. the journey.
So here are the next four questions:

9. If I had unlimited time and resources, what would I choose to do?
I would choose to be a professional speaker.  I would love to help teach leadership and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.  I feel that we are missing real leadership in every aspect of our communities.  I don’t know that I have all the answers, but I do have a foundation that can be of help.  It would also force me to keep learning and getting better.
10. When I daydream, what do I see myself doing?
Retiring, traveling with my wife, and being a leadership mentor (as stated in answer #9)
Living happily ever after.
11. What are the three or four most important things to me?
Family.  Health.  Living stress free.  Making a difference.
12. When I look at my work life, what activities do I consider of greatest worth?
My greatest worth is my work ethic.  I do not get any satisfaction from my employment.  Other that the fact that it provides me and my family the means to live well.  My daily work is not where I find satisfaction.  My work ethic though is what I take great pride in and would consider that my worth to my family, Scouting, and my employer.  I think that this is something that is missing in younger generations.  I think if I continue to demonstrate those ethics then I model what I expect in others.

No matter who wins in this election the next months will be the difference.  It will shape the next four years.  No matter who our next President is they will have to lead.  They will have to show us their vision.  They will have to express that vision in a way that makes us want to follow them.  President John F. Kennedy clearly outlined his vision during his inauguration speech.  He told America what we were going to be and where we were going to go.  He said, in my opinion the most important words of any modern era President.  Words that whoever our next President is needs to repeat, ”  My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
We all need to take heed to those words and know that leadership in our near future will come down to us being servant leaders.  That is what and who we are.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

What are you?

knowledgeIn the last blog post I shared my answers to the first four questions of the 20 questions that we ask participants of Wood Badge to consider before they get to their course.
Who you are and what you learn about yourself gets you started in discovering your life’s Vision and Mission.  In other words it sets you on a course for a life with purpose.  I will be sharing more about myself in this post as I move through a re look of the 20 questions building toward a better future for me and those close to me.
Before I get to that however, I would like to ask you all a few questions.
First.  Does this blog help you?
Second.  Do you find value in this blog?
Third.  What would you like to see more of in the blog?
Finally.  Do you share the content of the blog with other Scouters?
I ask this not to determine whether or not to continue, I am all in.  I ask this to make the blog better.  A blog with content worth sharing and a blog that keeps you coming back for more.  I truly want to help deliver the promise of Scouting in whatever way I can.
One thing that I think most of the readers of this blog have in common is a desire to make Scouting great and build fantastic experiences for the youth we serve.  Scout training is often not enough.  Round table is typically not attended by those that really need the coaching.  The internet has opened so many pathways to information and I want to use this tool to teach, coach, mentor and inspire other Scouters.  Is that happening?
I am not a numbers guy, but I do look at the blog stats on occasion to see trends and where impact is happening.. or not.
I have noticed a drop in subscriptions to the blog.  That is a natural thing.  And do not worry I do not lose sleep over it.  It is what it is.  In my perfect world I would have millions of subscribers, not to pad my ego, but to help Scouting.  But holding at 1630ish subscribers, I will go with it.  I don’t understand how it all works sometimes.  I think that site identity and recognition have a lot to do with it.  During the time when I did the blog and podcast I had the most views and subscribers.  The podcast is not coming back anytime soon, so I need to build this brand to the best it will be.
That may mean that I never see 2000 subscribers.. and that I will live with as long as this blog speaks to those that need it, want it, and keep coming back.  And to all of you I say Thanks!
The title of this post is “What are you?”  I selected that title because in answering the 20 questions you should also learn about what you are in relation to your relationships and activities.  What you are to other people, a leader, a parent, a friend, a partner.. you are identified by not only who you are but what you are.  Leaders are often viewed in this manner.  Their leadership style is not so much who they are but what they act like, what their actions are, and what they do for the group.  So what are you?  Understanding what you are is an important part of seeing your vision and building your life plan to get there.
Here are a few more questions and my answers:

5. Who is a person who has made a positive impact on my life?
My Dad.  We learn by watching others.  My Dad has always been a role model.  Teaching me many of the attributes to being a good Dad, Husband, and worker.  My Dad is not perfect, but his imperfection has been great lessons in leading, and living.  He instilled in me the importance of family, hard work, and taking care of others.  He taught me how to interact with people and when to filter my thoughts.  He has been a constant part of my life and I appreciate him.
6. Why was that person able to have such significant impact?
He is a good teacher.  I think that teachers teach more so by their actions than lecture.  For good or for bad what they do models how to be, know, and do things in your life.
7. What have been my happiest moments in life?
Watching my children find joy and success.  I have always loved watching as my kids grew up.  They had something that I never had growing up and that is friendships that have lasted their entire lives.  I grew up moving just about every three years.  They have lived on the same street their entire lives.  I have grown to know these kids (the friends of my kids) all their lives.  Seeing their relationships with one another is amazing.  Through sports, school, band, and scouting they and their friends have all grown to be good people.  Watching them will always be happy moments.
8.  Why were they happy?
Because my kids always bring me joy.  Through good times and tough times, they have always been my greatest success.

Well, OK.. there are the next four questions.  I hope that you are taking the time to answer them for yourself.  As you do, look for the opportunities for personal growth and understanding.  When we get to the end, go back and read your answers.  You never have to share them with anyone.  But as they say ‘knowledge is power’ and you will have the power to make your life better.
Please share the blog with your friends, Scouters, and whomever you feel will get something out of it.  It’s not about numbers, it’s about Vision and the mission of helping where I can.
Leave a comment below with the answers to the questions I asked at the beginning of the post.  I really do want to know what you think.  It is all about the assessment of this process and I do want to make it better to serve you.
Thanks for coming back time and again.  I sincerely appreciate it.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Who are you?

Yellow sign in the forest“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Before a Scouter attends Wood Badge, they receive a list of 20 Questions.  Those questions are for them to answer and for no one to see.  The purpose of the 20 questions is to discover just who they are and what they want in life.
If the Scouter takes these questions to heart and really puts some time and thought into them they prove to direct the Scouter to finding a personal Vision.  That vision leads to their mission and sets them up to achieving goals which in turn make their lives better, their units better, and those around them better.
Many people go through life without a sense of purpose or direction.  It is important to understand where we want to be in life in order to get there.  Life for many is a daily grind.  It is a means to some end that may or may not have meaning.  For many people WHY is not important in life.. “Do” takes over and soon they are just living but not being.
At Wood Badge we know that a life with purpose and direction leads to everything in life being better.  We do this through instruction and allowing the participant the time with the tools to set a life course.  Eating the elephant in small chunks to realize success and see their dreams come true.
The beauty of this process is that it is for the individual..  NOT Scouting or anything else.  Well, since it is Wood Badge is a Scouting activity we do ask that they make goals to make their units successful.. but we all know that when we are successful everything around us seems to fall in place.
The 20 questions are not hard, in fact for many these seem real simple.  Yes, they are simple, so simple in fact that most people do not give them second thought.  But if you do.. and you really put thought into them, they do in fact lead you to a better understanding of you.
I first took the time to answer these questions in 2005 when I attended Wood Badge.  And to be honest, I did not take them as serious as I should have.  I thought it was just another exercise and part of the ticket punch that typically comes with Scout training.  It was not until I was asked to staff for the 2011 course that I really sat down and answered the questions.  I wanted to be prepared to assist those in the patrol I was guiding.  I figured that I needed to be more in tuned with the ticket process and setting a personal Vision and Mission.  And so I did.  It was a remarkable change in my attitude and direction both in Scouting and in my personal life.
I thought I would share my 20 questions with you.  Not from 2005 or 2011, or from any other year that I have staffed Wood Badge.  No, I am rethinking my 20 questions.  As I look at this coming year and my journey as a Course Director, I know that life over the last 10 years has changed.  My values remain the same, but life has changed course.  Our youngest son is 21 years old today, that means the kids are no longer front and center with School activities, sporting events, and the drama that comes with the teen age years.  My wife and I are older and setting a course in life that is about us.  Time and energy being spent preparing to retire and looking to the rest or next chapter in our lives.  So as with everything, it is time for assessment and reflection and reevaluation of who we are, what we want, and where we are going.  Time to hit the reset button and it starts with 20 questions.
So over the next few blog entries I will share;

1. What do I feel are my greatest strengths?
I feel that my greatest strengths are they way I communicate and see things for what they are.  I believe in living on realities terms.  I am compassionate and fair.  I am honest.  I have an ability to lead and provide a desire for others to follow.
2. What strengths do others notice in me?
Communicator, Leader, Trustworthy, Kind, and fair.
3. What do I most enjoy doing?
Being with my family is first and foremost.  I love being in the outdoors.  I love to teach.
I think that beyond my family I have a desire to teach.  I love to see people learn and practice what they have been taught.  I like to share my knowledge.  It forces me to be life long learner my self.  I try to learn something new every day.  Sharing what I know is very important to me.
4. What qualities of character do I most admire in others?
Honesty and Loyalty. If you are not honest and loyal we can not be on the same team.  I have a need for people to be honest and forthcoming.  I absolutely can not stand people who are not honest.

Ok.. there are the first four.  More to come.  As I answer my 20.. consider your own.  If you have been to Wood Badge or you are going to go, take some time.  Set aside some time to honestly answer the questions.  Take them serious.  Don’t worry about what the “right” answers are or about satisfying someone else’s idea of how you should respond. No one except you will see what you write.  These questions could set you on a course to great discovery and success in your goals.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Those Knots

knotsEvery six months or so it seems that the discussion on knots come up.  Now you all know that I am not talking about the bowline or two half hitches, or even a well placed figure 8.  No I am talking about the knots that we wear on our uniforms, awards and recognition’s for training, service, and achievement.. primarily for adults.
The discussions vary in what to wear, how many to wear, why we should wear them and of course why not wear them?  I have heard thoughts on the knots and been the recipient of many comments for the knots that I wear.  I am not going to convince you what, where, when, and why you should or should not wear Scouting knots.. I am going to share my go to answer and talk about my knots.
First, Why wear them?  Well, the basic answer is that I either earned them or they were awarded (presented) to me.  I figure that if someone took the time to recommend me for an award, I should respect that and wear it.  Mostly it humbles me to think that someone thinks enough of me to go through all the work or at least paper work to recommend the award or recognition.
Second, I wear the knots as a visible resume’.  When meeting with new parents it shows a level of dedication, service, training, and experience in our program.  Even if they are unaware of the meaning of the knots, it shows that I have been there and done that.  Kind of like looking at a Scout with a full merit badge sash.  Never mind that Finger Printing takes 10 minutes to earn.. it’s on the sash and adds to the visual list of what the Scout has done in Scouting.  So I wear them to show what I have done and that I am dedicated to their son and the program.
What knots do I have and what do I wear?  Well, as you can see in the picture I have a few knots.  Starting with training, I have the Scoutmaster Training (Green knot), The Scoutmaster Key.  I still wear on some uniforms my Cub Scout knots, the Cubmaster award, Den leader, and Webelos Den leader knots.  Knots that were awarded are the Scoutmaster Award of Merit, The District Award of Merit, and The Silver Beaver Award.  I also wear my Arrow of Light award.  I also wear the James E. West recognition and William D. Boyce New Unit Organizer award.  I take pride in what I have on my shirt.  It is all about the program and how active I am within it.
I wear all of my knots on some shirts and just a few on others.  It totally depends on the shirt and what I put on it when I purchased it.  There really is no rhyme or reason, it is whatever I got when I went to the Scout shop that day.  I try to wear them all though.  I like consistency and think it is important to demonstrate that to our Scouts.  I believe that everything that we do is modeling to our Scouts.
What does the BSA say I can or can not wear?  It used to be a general rule that one only wore three rows of knots.  That has since changed and there is no restriction or limit to the knots that you can wear.  So it is up to you.
When people ask what the most important knot I have is I tend to struggle a bit.  I am extremely proud to be a recipient of the Silver Beaver.  I am honored to have been recommended and selected.   I value that award as I know the people that submitted me for it and I am thankful that the Council committee saw fit to award it to me.  The same goes for the Scoutmaster Award of Merit.  It is no longer an award that can be presented.  At the time it was awarded by the National Eagle Scout Association.  That made it special to me as I never earned the Eagle Award.  I don’t know, some sort of way I can associate with that honor… I know it’s a stretch, but hey.. it’s my mind and the way I think at times.
Clearly there is not one award that is great than the others, after all, it is what they represent and why I have them that matters.
Arguments against knots.  I have heard most of them.  The number one argument is typically that it is just vanity and the program is for the boys.
Yeah, the program is for the boys, but without adults it would just be a huge version of Lord of the Flies.  We can’t have that can we.  Vanity?  I am not vain in any stretch of the imagination. I am proud and honored, but vain.. nah.
Regardless of the argument what I have observed is that those that argue about the wearing of knots by and large do not wear the uniform properly if at all.  Now I am going to sound like the uniform police here, but, they typically do not wear their patches in the right positions and have rarely done anything to warrant the earning or presentation of the knots.  Now I am not suggesting that they are bad people, but the uniform is a method of Scouting that should be executed properly.  You all should know where I stand on that if you have read the blog for more than a year.
Wearing knots is not mandatory nor is it discouraged.  I like to see Scouters wear their knots.  It says something about their active Scouting life.  They take the time to put them on their uniforms, and they show that they are grateful for someone thinking enough about them to put them in for the award.  I like to see that they are trained and they value our program.
What is your feeling when it comes to knots?  Do you wear them?  What do you have?  If you don’t wear them.. why not?
Leave a Comment and lets discuss this.. it won’t come up again for at least six months.
I am not sure how old or up to date this site is, I know it still lists discontinued knots, but it still gives you a good idea of the knots available and downloads for application or recommendation.   Check out BSA Square Knot Guide.  You can learn more about BSA Awards at the National BSA Awards Center site.

Have a Great Scouting Day!


Changing the World

It has been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.. and last night in dramatic fashion, coming back from 3 games to 1.. taking the series to a critical game 7, and then into extra innings, the Cubs won!
For many this is the sign of hell freezing over, the second coming, or whatever.  I am not one that speaks to much of hope.  I do not believe that sitting around hoping gets things done.  It took hard work, putting the right team together, and playing the game right all season to get the Cubs to the World Championship of Major League Baseball.  It takes hard work and perseverance to make things happen.
Baden Powell had a vision for Scouting to make it the worlds largest movement for Peace.  He did not hope for a better tomorrow, he knew that it would take hard work and steadfastness of the movement to make a difference.  Some may say that this cause has been a failure.  The world is still a crazy place.  Yes, but.. there is still Scouting.  Scouting still marches on with the goal.. not hope, that it will make a difference.  It is up to us.
It is up to us to be that agent of change.  It is up to us to carry the torch and make a difference.  If we hope someone else will do it we will never see it to reality.
Governments have proven that they can not do it.  So it comes down to what?  Hope?  No.. it comes down to us.  One Scout Movement that believes that it is that organization that can change the world.
I believe that it can.. and will.  It will take time.  It will take putting the right team together.  It will take hard work.  It will take perseverance, dedication, and the will to continue what Baden Powell started.
It made me happy to watch last night as the Cubs won the World Series!  It makes me happy every time I look at the Scouts of our unit and know that it some small way we are working toward making the World a better place.  It starts with us.

Have a Great Scouting Day!