Initiative is really what makes leadership work. Those leaders that understand their Patrols [the make up of the guys, how they are motivated, and their skill levels], know what right looks like, and have an idea of the plan, should be able to get anything done. But the one thing that can not be purchased or taught is initiative. Initiative comes from an understanding that “I am a leader, and I know what needs to be done”. No matter what the situation, in the absence of other leaders and specific instruction, this get done by leaders that demonstrate initiative. A leader should never have to wait till he is told to do something when it is clear that it needs to be done. We all know that the first thing we do when we get to camp is set up the tents. Patrols leaders should not wait for the SPL to tell them to do the task, they should take initiative and get it done. The same can be said for any and all the tasks that make up our Scouting experience. In order for a leader to develop initiative, he must know the plan and have the skills. Knowing the plan is key. This means that a Patrol leader should be at the PLC meeting. This way he ensures that he knows what is coming up. He can then prepare himself and his Patrol. A leader should never wait to begin working on the plan. Say the Troop is going on a 25 mile Backpack trip. Right away the Patrol leaders knows 3 things. 1. We need to eat.. so lets plan a menu. 2. We will be carrying our gear.. so lets find out what we need and divide the gear up. 3. Finally, who’s going? and do we need to shake down before we go? This is initiative, doing what needs to be done without instruction or direction. The initiative that a leader demonstrates can be the difference between a task done well and a task incomplete. We all know what right looks like and have the skills needed to be good patrols. Initiative is the difference. Have a Great Scouting Day!
Before I get into today’s post I want to thank every one for their interest in the review of Scoutbook.com. Unfortunately I was only given three free subscriptions and they went to the first three emails I received. But the response was overwhelming. 50 of you emailed for a shot at the subscription.
So the folks at Scoutbook.com have given me another offer… if you subscribe for a year of Scoutbook and put in THESCOUTMASTERMINUTE in the coupon code at check out you will get 10% off your subscription.
Thank you to Scoutbook.com and thank all of you for supporting me and them.
Now on with the regular scheduled blog post…
Baden Powell understood young men, he had a connection with the way they learned, developed and reacted to teaching styles and learning environments. In the following excerpt from the Lessons from the Varsity life by Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell he discusses the Scout law.
“The Scout Law.
So the Scout Law was not framed as a list Of DON’T’S. Prohibition generally invites evasion since it challenges the- spirit inherent in every red-blooded boy (or man).: The boy is not governed by DON’T, but is led on by DO. The Scout Law, therefore, was devised as a guide to his actions rather than as repressive of his faults. It merely states what is good form and expected of a Scout. 1. A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. 2. A SCOUT IS LOYAL. 3. A SCOUT’s DUTY IS TO BE USEFUL. 4. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ALL. 5. A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS. 6. A SCOUT IS A FRIEND TO ANIMALS. 7. A SCOUT OBEYS ORDERS. 8. A SCOUT SMILES AND WHISTLES UNDER ALL DIFFICULTIES.
9. A SCOUT IS THRIFTY.
10. A SCOUT IS CLEAN IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED.”
Scouting across the world adopted the law and modified it to meet the needs of the national programs in which they applied. But the rule of DO and not Don’t carried throughout. We learn through our Scout Law what we should Do and Be, not what we should not do or be. Unlike the 10 commandments that teach us what not to do and be, the Scout Law encourages a life of Service and ethical attitudes. It gives us a starting point from which we test our decisions and actions that follow.
I found it interesting that the other day I over heard a man talking about the “Say it out loud test”. This tested whether or not one should engage in something that may not be sound. The way it works is that before you do something, say it out loud. If it does not sound right in your head… don’t do it.
Baden Powell encouraged us to DO the right thing. He did not want to burden us with a list of DON’Ts… DO be Trustworthy, DO be Loyal, DO be Helpful, DO be Friendly, DO be Courteous, DO be Kind, DO be Obedient, DO be Cheerful, DO be Thrifty, DO be Brave, DO be Clean, and DO be Reverent. Putting this positive attitude in our rules to live by makes it easier. We all enjoy it when we are given opportunity and latitude. When I am told that I can do something, I feel a lot better than when someone tells me I can’t.y it out loud. For example, if you are going to rob a bank. Say it out loud. It just sounds wrong… then don’t do it.
Another example; “Hey lets all put a knife in the wall socket”… say it out loud… it does not even sound right, does it? Then don’t do it.
As Scouts and future leaders of America, we encourage you to BE, KNOW, and DO. You know what right looks like.. you have the power to DO it! Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I talked about the four “C”s that when added to the leaders tool box makes for ease in decision-making and better leaders.
I will add that when our young leaders start using the four “C”s they will also become Confident leaders. Young leaders need practice to become confident. Learning and finding success builds that confidence.
Making mistakes are a good thing.
I have heard confidence defined as the “Expectation of Success”. I think this is a fair definition in that as a leader we are striving to achieve a goal. Whether that is a person goal or a team goal, the mastering of a task or skill, or getting from point A to point B. The leader expects to achieve success.
Making mistakes to achieve that success is ok when lessons are learned and there is time to evaluate and make corrections. Mistakes that are uncorrected or allowed to be swept under the rug are just mistakes and a waste of time and energy. Further more they do not built confidence in leaders as they do not see that success when they fail to learn from their mistakes.
So when our goal as Scoutmasters is to build confident leaders we need to watch for those mistakes and coach them through the recovery.
When a Quarterback throws an interception he is often greeted by the coach as he comes to side line. The QB failed to achieve the goal of completing the pass. He failed to achieve the goal of moving the ball down the field and scoring a touchdown. The coach has a choice to make. He can discuss the play with the Quarterback and refocus his vision of success or he chew him out. I would submit that while the Quarterback let the team down by throwing the pick, he will recover faster and make fewer mistakes if coached on mechanics of the pass, what he saw down field, or maybe even communicating better with his receiver. The point is there are many things that the coach may have seen that the QB did not as the Defensive End came busting around the Tackle. It is the coaches responsibility to build that confidence back up in the player. The coach has a bigger perspective of the game and can assist in getting the Quarterback back on track by teaching him and not chastising him.
Having said that, there is room in certain situations for a good hard lesson. I have said it many times, I care less about how you feel and more about how you act. I would never advocate belittling or bringing a Scout down.. remember that the goal here is to build confidence. If a leaders decision was such that it caused harm or moves away from the values found in the Oath and Law, the discussion is a bit different. Always in the spirit of teaching and learning, but not such that the leader feels like he got away with something.
Confident leaders make consistent good decisions. Part of that decision-making is in how the leader, by being confident builds confidence in those he leads. The most important thing that leaders can do is show confidence in other people.
This in turn leads to leaders that show initiative. Initiative is power. Power to act, Power to make decisions, and Power to take advantage of opportunity. This is when real leaders begin to shine. This is where you see the confidence built-in your young leaders. This is where you start to build that leadership trait in future leaders. When the younger Scouts see their leaders show initiative and confidence it sends the message that it is ok to step up and lead.
It all begins with that vision of success. Clear goals, personal and as part of the team. Building confident leaders is the responsibility first of the Scoutmaster. When that happens you have a Troop that can lead. Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night at our Troop meeting I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of super enthusiastic Webelos. They came to the meeting to wrap up their Arrow of Light requirement of participating in a Scoutmaster Conference.
During the course of our discussion, we did it as a group, I talked about the Scout Oath and Law and gave them some pointers for not only knowing how to say the Scout Oath, but how to remember the promises you make in saying the Oath and living it daily.
I explained to them the three promises.
Duty to God and Country. It is important to always remember our Duty to our God and this great Country of ours. Our God that has blessed us and continues to pour out his love for us. No matter how you view that God or by which name you call him, he has given us so much and we need to remember our Duty to love him and serve him with all of our Heart, our Soul, and our Mind. And this Country, no matter what your political slant is is a Country that is free. A Country that still values Liberty over all. It is our Country that we call home and we need to serve it where and how we can.
Duty to Other people. We pledge to help other people at all times. We need to be of help in our community, our home, and everywhere that we have an opportunity to make a difference. It is when we have a Duty to others that we learn to live with an attitude of selfless service.
And finally, our Duty to our Selves. To keep ourselves Physically Strong, Mentally awake, and Morally Straight. When we remember our promise to ourselves we can be a better person for others. Staying strong, fit, we can be an example of wellness and enjoy a life without the burden of illness. Being mentally awake we continue to learn, to sharpen our skills, and to be aware of the needs around us. And to be morally straight keeps our internal compass of right heading the way that makes us the people of Character that we are. It guides us to do the right thing at all times. Those three promises can be found in the Scout sign, a daily reminder to live the promises that we make each time we say the Scout Oath.
We say the Oath aloud each Monday night at our Troop meeting, this is an accountability measure. We all hear one another say the Oath and we hold each other to the promises that we make. Have a Great Scouting Day!
No matter how many times I say it, it seems to always be there.. a theme… Like the opportunity to do a good turn daily is just a matter of opening your eyes, a another theme for this week has rendered itself in front of me.
It seems that everywhere I turn this week, at work, on the radio, daily devotion, whatever.. the idea of being grateful keeps coming up. And so it got me thinking about just how grateful am I?
My thoughts immediately turn toward those things closest to me. My family. I am so grateful that I have a wife of 22 years. She is my partner and my best friend. We have been through it all together. She is the mother of my three amazing kids. Yes, I love to brag about my kids. Our son that is serving in the Army, I am grateful for him. He has become a great man. Our daughter who is a college student. She brings us so much joy. I am grateful for the way she is becoming a neat women that has compassion and a heart to be helpful. And then our youngest son who is going to graduate from high school this year. An amazing athlete and student. He has a heart as big as the moon and watching him grow and become the person that he is has been fun. None of this without it’s challenges, but for all of it I am grateful.
My parents are still around and close by. I love the fact that my kids all have the opportunity to grow up with their grandparents, something I did not get to do. I am ever so grateful for the lessons that my parents gave me that shaped me into the person that I am.
My home, as in my Country. The greatest Country on Earth.. says me. I am grateful that I am an American. A land where I don’t have to like or agree, because we have liberty. A Country where I have opportunity to go as far as I want to. I land that rewards hard work and drive. A Country that has lots of problems and a government that drives me up the wall, but it’s still home and I am grateful that I live here.
I am grateful for my health. I can still run and play and get out in the woods. I have never had a major health issue and have the ability to provide for me family because I am healthy.
I can talk, I can see, I can lift, I can move. I am grateful.
Scouting. A program that is all about the things that I believe in and love. Character, Citizenship, and Fitness. The great outdoors and making young people in to good older people. A program that I know works. I am grateful that I belong to a great troop. A committee that wants to keep me around. Assistant Scoutmasters that are fun to work with, great men that practice what they preach and are fantastic role models. And of course those young men that keep showing up every Monday night. Man am I glad that they stick with it.
I suppose the point of all of this is that sometimes we forget to show gratitude. We tend to take advantage of the simple things and often times let our thankfulness pass us by in our busy lives.
Its time that we take a moment and be grateful for all that we have. We have so much. If you are reading this, you are on your computer, tablet, smart phone, or other device. That means that you are doing ok.. be thankful.
Finally, I am thankful for all of you. I need to express that gratitude more often. Thank you for reading, subscribing or following, and thank you for showing interest in this blog. Thanks! Have a Great Scouting Day!
So who here has a perfect Troop? A group of Scouts that get along with no issues? A unit that has a culture of absolute peace and harmony?
Yeah? If you have that Troop, please let me know what side of Utopia you live on and I will come and check that out.. I certainly have some things to learn.
For those of you that live on our planet and work with Boy Scouts you know that at some point you will be dealing with problems. Personal issues and friction among the Scouts.
The BSA includes a block of instruction dealing with Conflict Resolution in the NYLT or JLT sessions. Yes, I know that there is no longer a program called JLT, but many units still run their own Junior Leader Training sessions as part of their annual plan.
The Boy Scouts train our Scouts to use the Key word EAR. Express, Address, and Resolve. Those are great to remember when Scouts get into sticky situations with one another. Again, I still have lots to learn, but feel some what qualified to speak on conflict resolution. I have been married for over 20 years, raised 3 kids, and have been a Scoutmaster now for 10 years.
I have come up with a few general rules of my own for resolving conflict.
1. Calm Down. When tempers are flaring and the parties are upset the best thing to do is calm the situation down. Separate the folks involved and get them, and everyone around to calm down. No conflict will be resolved when the blood is still up.
2. Listen. Both sides of the story need to be heard. Spend more time listening and less time judging. Give both parties time and attention. More times than not there is no one right or wrong side of the issue. Typically it is a personality issue or and issue of who’s idea gets picked. Listen. I have seen the issues work themselves out just because they talked and I listened.
3. Focus on Behavior. Behavior is the key to the direction that conflicts go. Never allow the behavior to turn bad because of the conflict. The Oath and Law are great guides in directing expected behavior. Reinforce that behavior is more important than feelings. How we act is more important than how we feel. In the end our behavior will impact how we feel, so if we control our behavior and keep it within the values of the Scout Law, we need not worry about feelings.
4. Shake and look ’em in the eye. Each conflict needs to have an end. A hand shake and look in the eye is the final point. Once that happens there can be no more issues. Those are the rules. Don’t shake and apologize if you don’t mean it and there is still conflict. It aint over till it’s over. When it’s over.. Shake and look each other in the eye.
I have been using those simple ideas for some time now and find that it works great. You have to be committed to working it through though. Don’t allow the emotion of the conflict override the resolution. Never allow the group to dictate or pick sides. That turns nasty and in the end you will divide the unit with that type of behavior.
Remember that the resolution is for the good of both parties and the unit. It’s not fixed till everyone has a sense of satisfaction in the resolution.
I hope that helps. Have a Great Scouting Day!
This is sort of a follow up to yesterdays post.
As some of you know I collect Scouting Literature and memorabilia. I often like to look back at the old Scoutmaster handbooks and see how things are different. The one thing that I have seen that is constant is “the boy”.
I am going to quote extensively from the 1953 Handbook for Scoutmasters in the this post. I know that it is not cool to use so much material like that. But I really need the BSA’s help (from 1953) here to make my point.
On what a boy wants: He wants to stand on his own two feet, to make decisions, to show his independence and initiative. He dreams of being a leader.
I see that in today’s boys. The problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know and so we need to teach them. He wants action and fun. He wants to be in the thick of things, to run and fight, to be on the move.
But today we don’t want him running, he might get hurt. But today’s boy still wants to run, just watch him. Most of what we call ADD today is pent-up energy. We need to let the boy let it out. He craves adventure, a change of surroundings. He want to experience new things in new ways, to feel the wind in his hair, the sun in his eyes. He wants to escape, to get away from his everyday life.
Boy, that sounds good does it not? Sounds like all the reasons we joined Scouts when I was a kid. Sounds like the reason a lot of still do Scouting. Why not let the boys do that to.
In 1953 the Handbook for Scoutmasters shared “We must take him as we find him, and help him grow into the man he hopes to be.” Sounds familiar. Bob Mazzucca told us this just a few years ago. The handbook reminds us also that we in Scouting do not have the sole responsibility for helping the boy become a man. “Most of it, as a matter of fact rests within his home, his Church, his School.” The 1953 handbook goes on to say; Then in our own work with the boy, let us strive to do well the things that we know that Scouting can do- and can do better than any other agency… He comes to us because he wants to become a Scout- he wants to Scout!
The book goes on to talk about the fact that boys do not come to Scouts to get more School (paraphrasing), but for the Outdoor thrills of hikes and camp. I will wrap up my last quote from the handbook with this. That’s what he comes for. And that’s what we must give him: THE SCOUTING ADVENTURE HE EXPECTS! By giving him pure unadulterated Scouting, we come closest to reaching our goal.
Now I don’t know about you, but in my opinion boys have not changed. It is the parents that have changed and as a result, they are taking the boyhood out of the boy.
A quick look back at not so long ago gives a peek into a world that allowed boys to be boys. I contend that nothing today precludes us from still letting that happen.
I am curious to see where you stand on this. Leave us a comment, lets talk about this. I want our boys back! Have a Great Scouting Day!