Competition

The Little Stuff

bsa-tentOne of the big misconceptions in leadership is that the leader needs to worry about the big stuff.  Yes, the leader has to know or have vision and that requires a look from the 1000 foot view, but when it really comes down to leading, it is the little stuff that matters.  The little things that make all of the big things happen or lead to big success.
Lets go back to our example we have used here of “The Tent”.
When we set up our tent there is but one correct way to set it up.  As a leader to ensure that the tent is set up correctly a look at the details, the little stuff, is important.
Is the footprint extended beyond the flap of the tent?  If so, it’s wrong.
Are the stakes in so that it will actually hold the tent down?  Stakes improperly placed will allow for the tent to be unstable, not tight, and ultimately not serve their purpose.
Is the vestibule staked out properly?  Are the vents open or closed dependent on the conditions?  Is the tent located in a good position to leave no trace?  Out of the elements?  In low ground?
Are the guy lines being used properly?
Are the storage bags put away or just blowing all over the camp site?
Is the rain fly on correctly or inside out?
Is the door facing away from the wind?
Is there food in the tent?
Is the gear stored properly (not in the tent)?
You see there are a list of little things that go into setting up a tent.  Multiply that by the number of guys in the Patrol and how many tents are set up and you have a lot of little things to look at.  When all of those little things are done right, everything tends to fall into place.
This habit of doing all the little things right will lead one to doing everything right.  Once the standard has been set, it is something that becomes routine.  Leaders check and recheck and inspect what they expect to see.
They first teach the skill, the task, or the method and then hold those that they are leading accountable.  Doing it over is an option.  Not correcting something that is wrong is not.  That to is perceived as a little thing.
I have heard over and over that “well.. that really doesn’t matter”, “they are just kids”, “give it a break, it’s only a weekend”…  It all matters to leaders.  There are standards for every task and when they are done right, all of the big things are right also.  All of the little things matter to make the big things work.
There is no room for lowering the standard, when that happens it to become habit and that is when things go wrong.
This example works for every task our Scouts are asked to do.
There is a reason we have our Scouts earn their Totin’ Chip before they are allowed to use a Knife, Saw, and Ax.  The Totin’ Chip program introduces the standard.  The consequence for not performing to that standard is the inability to participate using a knife, saw, or ax.
When we allow the little things to slide we set our selves and those we lead up to be unsuccessful.  Mainly because they will tend to do more and more wrong.  Once the idea that everything is expected to be done right is accepted, and the leader makes sure that the little things are constantly being checked, you will see success in the big things.
So how do we make that happen?  Training and accountability.
This last weekend we conducted Junior leader training with all of the older Scouts in the Troop.  Since we have been having some issues with leadership lately, I decided it was time to get back to basics.  The Senior Patrol Leader had the Troop pack up everything on Saturday morning.  The days activities started with the Troop splitting up, the younger guys went to shoot shot guns and the older guys began their training.  We began with a discussion on packing a backpack the right way.  We demonstrated what right looks like and then made sure that every pack looked that way.  It was a lesson on attention to detail and not taking the easy way out.
Then we went on a little hike.  When we reached our first destination, the leaders were given the task to set up camp using leave no trace principles.  They set off to get camp set up.  I instructed the Scouts that when they were finished to come and stand by me.  Once they all were there, we talked about the little things and making sure all of the little things were right leading to the big thing (camp set up) being correct.  Each Scout had to go to a tent that was not his and stand.  Then one by one they instructed the group as to what was wrong with that set up.  Each and every tent had something that needed to be improved.  Corrections were made and then a second walk through happened.  This time everything was right and the Scouts could see the big picture.
After a quick reflection and discussion of the process, they were instructed to pack and move to a second location and do it again.  The same process happened the second time, this time with fewer mistakes.  Again corrections were made, this time including the use of the EDGE ™ method of teaching [Explain, Demonstrate. Guide, and Enable].  And pack it up again.  This time with a pause to inspect the packs to make sure they were packed right.  If it was not correct, do it again.  Reinforcing the idea that there is only one right way to do it and we will not settle for it being done wrong.
When the younger Scouts got back from shooting their Troop guide did this process with the new Scouts.  Packing and unpacking, setting up and taking down.  He made it a game having the Scouts race each other and in the process made it fun.  The new guys picked up on it right away.  I overheard the Troop guide explain to them that doing it right the first time will save them time and energy down the road.  There is only one right way of doing things right.
The focus is on the little stuff and making the little stuff matter.  Little things done right make the big things right.
When it comes to older Scouts and adults, modeling the expected behavior while doing the little things right and making sure that the little things are always done right will set you up to being an effective leader and leading a high performance team.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Modeling Expected Behavior

expectmoreI often preach about how I expect more out of our young men, that nothing in life will be easy, and that there are no participation ribbons just for showing up in life.  When it comes to leadership, the Scouts in our Troop hear it over and over again that we all need to “Model Expected Behavior” and they all  should at least have an understanding of what that means. For the Scouts of our Troop that means that good is not good enough.  It means that we do things right, we learn from mistakes, and we hold one another to a higher standard.
So what does that mean?  Is is arrogant of us to act that way?  Well, to the outsider looking in, yep.. but for us we look at it this way.  The world around us is happy with mediocre leadership, results, and standards of living.  I’m not ok with that when it comes to our Scouts.
We are not a merit badge mill nor are we an Eagle factory.  We do not measure success in the amount of Scouts that earned awards or rank each year.  We measure success in the way our Scouts act.  We see direct results in watching older Scouts teach younger Scouts and hold each other accountable.  We measure our success in growth and sustained attendance.  Is our Troop for everyone.. nah.. but no troop is.  Even though we all work toward the Aims of Scouting, our programs are different in their delivery.  I could not be in a Troop that had more adult involvement than Scouts.  I could not be a unit that did merit badge classes each week.  I could not be in a Troop that produces Eagle Scouts that can not do the basics.  I could not be apart of a Troop that did not seek adventure and test the limits.
This weekend, our Troop camped at a local Scout camp.  There were not a lot of miles walked and the weather was great.  It got real cold, and that tested some of the boys in the troop.  Some Scouts pushed their boundaries by shooting Shot guns for the first time, while other Scouts increased their knowledge and leadership skills at Junior Leader Training.  A few Scouts were taken out of their comfort zones as they taught the Junior Leader Training.  No matter what level of the Scout there was challenge enough for everyone.
Our Junior Leader Training follows the National program, but we tend to focus heavily on communication skills, team development, Conflict resolution, and expectations of leaders.
We start the session with a talk about Modeling Expected Behavior and then everything that follows in the course of training maintains that theme.  We expect our Scouts to be and act the best.  Good is never good enough.  The team deserves that attitude from everyone.  If they all act their best.. they become the best.  A high performance team.
Now you may ask.. aren’t you expecting too much from these young men.  Nope.  If I don’t who will?  We see too much “getting by” in our world and I will not be party to it.  Do we exclude young men when we expect more from them?  NO.. we expect more and they give more… like it or not.. That I don’t care about.  Life is going to expect a lot from them.  Why treat them with kiddy gloves now.
Does this mean we are hard ass’s?  Not at all.  We stay within the Scout Oath and Law.  Teaching in a friendly, fun, challenging atmosphere.  But when things are not right, a leader (adult or youth) simply corrects the issue and we move on.  Un tied shoes, un tucked shirts, gear looking like a yard sale, bad attitudes, improper set up or use of gear, not living the vlaues of the Scout Oath and Law.  These are things that other Scout leaders just allow.  Kids will be kids… yeah.. but bad habits last forever.  Good attitudes, skills, and behavior does to and gets them a lot farther in life.
So modeling expected behavior is a cultural thing.  We don’t march, we don’t yell.. yelling is for ineffective bad leaders.. we just teach, coach, train, and mentor.. oh and we model expected behavior.  Adults don’t get a free pass on bad behavior either.  We are expected to model what we expect.
The proof is in the pudding.  Our Troop grows annually.  We lose Scouts too, and that’s ok, maybe we are not the fit for them.  Maybe XBox and lower expectations is what they are looking for in life.  And that’s ok.. just not in our Troop.
This morning a Scout was standing under a shelter pouting.  His hands were cold, after all, it was 24 degrees outside.  His Patrol leader had just instructed him to get his gloves on.  The Scout could not find them.  So the Patrol leader and the Scout went to his pack and dumped it out.  There were the gloves.  I then saw the Scout standing there not assisting with his Patrol in breaking camp and wrapping up the clean up.  I called him over to where I was standing watching.  I asked him if he was ok.  Yeah.. he said, but I’m cold.  I suggested that if he would get moving he would warm up.  If he would help his Patrol mates out.. he would start to feel a bit warmer.  I asked him why he was pouting earlier and he told me that his hands were cold.  I asked him what he did about it… fully knowing what had happened.  He said that he found his gloves and put them on.  Then I had him recite the Scout Law to me.  And asked to him to reflect on the meaning of being Trustworthy.  We talked a bit about making choices and how he was either going to develop good habits and skills, or he would develop bad ones.  The choice was his, not mine, the Patrol leaders, or his parents.  He would have to make a choice which path he wanted to take.  He turned and walked back to his patrol and pitched in.  You see, if we let it go, it won’t change.  If we expect little, that is what we get.  So we chose to expect more.  And not surprisingly we get more.
When our Youth leaders set good examples and model the behavior that we want out of our Troop.. that is what we get.
There is nothing wrong with winning and losing.  We can learn from both.  There is everything wrong with not learning and not trying to learn, to push, and to find success.
I had a talk with a Scoutmaster about this a while ago.  He said that “I bet they all march around and it’s all yes sir this and no sir that..”  On the contrary.. In fact the Scouts in my Troop call me Jerry and we call them by their names.  There is no marching, yelling, or military like behavior.. just a lot of fun and development.  It is an environment that is comfortable, friendly, and leaves them wanting to come back.
At the end of each camp out we close with lessons learned, Start, Stop, and Continue.  Today the Senior Patrol leader led the discussion with whole troop.  As the next two camp outs will be up on the mountain, this camp out was a great opportunity to learn and get ready for the up coming outings.  He had each Scout share one thing that needs to improve in the next 3 weeks.  I listened as the Scouts really gave some thought to their answers.  It was in some of the more experienced Scouts answers that I realized that they got it.. they are modeling expected behavior.  They were critical of themselves and how they prepared for this camp out.  The next one will be that much more successful.
Expect more.. get more.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

One Word

You know, some times things happen and then you look back at it and have an “Ah Ha” moment.
In my last post I put in a Rockwell print to illustrate “Scouting”… Today as I looked at it again, I thought.. Now that is the ultimate Boy Scout Recruiting poster.
Look at the Cub Scout in the print.. you know what he wants out of Scouting… Look close you will see it.
If you build it they will come pt.2

ADVENTURE!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Effort

The other day I went to the high school to pick up my youngest son from Football practice.  Practice was running late, so I hung out and watched as the players ran sprints and did up downs.  Now, for those of you that have played a little football, you know that after 3 hours of practice the last thing you want to do is wind sprints and up downs.  But the team seemed to run and run and run.  After each lap and set of up downs the coach would tell them to watch the ball and then they would get in a ready position.  The idea was to be disciplined and ready to finish games in the fourth quarter.  He asked the players to give more effort.
The longer they ran.. the less effort the coach would see.  They were tired and as they got more tired, the less effort they would give.. the less effort they gave, the more mistakes they would make, the more mistakes they would make, the more they ran… and so went the cycle.
It all came down to effort.  Who was willing to give more when it counted.
I stood there and watched and thought.. yep, it is about effort.  Life is about effort.  You can over come many things with more effort.  The harder you work, the more you will be rewarded.  If you apply the effort to any task you will eventually see results.
In the fourth quarter, weather that is on the football field, in the classroom, or in a Scout troop effort matters.
Here is what I see way to often… a lack of effort.  I see this in most things in life.  Way to many times we see our young men just try to get by, to “Max the Minimum”.  To give the least amount of effort and expect the same results.
We see that a lot in our Scouts..  Way to often do we see them avoid patrol chores, planning, or pitch in when they are needed.  Way to often do we see them demonstrate a lack of effort when it comes to finishing tasks like service projects.  And then there is advancement.  I see a lot of Scouts that expect to be moved along, just like when they were in Cub Scouts, with their peers.  Or I see the effort coming from their parents.  That lack of effort will not get the work done.  I suppose that’s why only 4% become Eagle Scouts.
Now, we won’t make them do wind sprints and up downs.. no we just encourage them to “Do their best”.. well, I guess what I am saying is that maybe “Their best” is not good enough.  Maybe they need to apply more effort and make their best better.
This is the game of life and where do we want them to be in the fourth quarter.  I want them to be winning.
I want them to be successful.  I want them to work hard for what they get, not expect a hand out or to be “moved along” with their peers.  No I want to see them give the effort to their lives.  It is then that they will appreciate the things that they earn.  It is with more effort that they will be great men.
I love these teachable moments they seem to pass in front of us each day.  Watching as my son and his team mates ran until they proved that they wanted to be winners made me look at other areas of our life.  Wouldn’t it be great if every one in the School gave that much effort, or in the neighborhood and community.
Living the Scout oath and Law takes effort.  It’s not easy and it’s not designed to be.  People that do not give effort just get by.  Those that give extra effort succeed.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

NOS

NOS means “Not otherwise specified” in Military lingo.  It essentially means that we can’t find a category for it.. and so it is with this post.
It has been a while since I posted last, so here is some catching up and thoughts.
I’ll start with the drama.  Last week I volunteered as a ‘Guest Instructor’ for the JROTC class at our High School.  I learned a lot while teaching the 6 classes a day about accountability, military customs and courtesies, and shared life lessons that will (if listened to) help these young men and women.  What I learned about JROTC was that it has very little to do with the military.  Rather, the National syllabus for instruction focuses on Character, Citizenship, Leadership, and fitness… now where I have I seen that before?
Now I understand that there is an Army component to the class.  They structure the class around an Army Battalion, wear uniforms once a week, and use Army language, but beyond that the curriculum is very generic in its content regarding character, citizenship and leadership.  This was a surprise to me not really knowing what to think about JROTC and knowing how the ROTC at the University level works.
I was also surprised to see that very little attention is payed to recruiting or pushing a career in the military to these Cadets.  It was rarely talked about.  Now, of course there were graduating Seniors that are currently making plans for a career in the military, but the JROTC program is not a pool for recruiting. 
I enjoyed teaching the class for the week and had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding students.  I also met my share of students that frankly I fear will not make it in life.  They are lazy, unmotivated, can’t seem to develop study habits, and generally could care less about their school, community, home, or one another.  This shocked me.  All of my kids currently attend this high school and for the last 4 years we have had a very positive experience.  Our daughter has been active with the Marching Band, Symphonic and Concert bands, and has made great friends at the High School.  Both of our sons have been athletes and members of various school clubs and also have made lasting friendships.  All three of the kids have maintained good if not excellent grades over their high school careers and so our view of the school has been shaped by the athletes, friends, and social activities that my wife and I have been fortunate to participate in and get to know.  Our house is always full of kids, mostly football players, and I have gotten to know them and their families and I can honestly say that they are good kids.  So to be at the School and see the apathy that I saw this week, well, it shocked me.
NOW, having said all of that, the School District is in a world of mess right now, the teachers are minutes away from going on strike, the School District Board is not budging and neither is the teachers union.  It has become very ugly in our little neck of the woods.  The climate at the School is very apathetic and so I can see where some of the students have got it.
I hope this resolves quickly.. from the Scoutmaster perspective.  Most of my older Scouts attend this School and it is effecting them.  This close to the end of School, with the impending strike, the students have been forced to scramble to get things done in order to maintain decent GPA’s to round out the year.  The uncertainty has left them questioning the dedication of both the teachers and the school district to their education.
Enough of that… I just hope it gets over quickly.
How this affects Scouting however is clear.  When things are weird in Scouts lives.. it gets weird in their Scouting life.  I had about half the Troop missing from this weekends Camporee.  All high school age students, and students that needed to get much need assignments completed to increase their final GPA.  They called me up and we talked about what was more important.  The least I could do for them is support them. 
Now Camporee… 28 went to Camporee this weekend, a good portion were the younger (First year) Scouts.  They did fantastic!  They proved that they are mastering Scout craft and basic skills.  They were motivated and showed the district that our Troop was there to compete.  We didn’t win the District Camporee Top Troop award, but each patrol came home with ribbons for winning Scout craft events.  They did not win the best camp site, it seems we were missing Patrol boxes and a trailer.  To that, the SPL suggested that we would never win.. and it’s ok.. we are backpackers and if they don’t like our style.. so be it.  I was proud of him and his attitude.
This morning as we packed up and loaded the truck with our packs I overheard a Scoutmaster from a neighboring Troop yell at his Troop this; “Look at them.. while you are struggling with your boxes.. they are playing frisbee!”
We could not help but high five each other.. the Scout leadership had done an exceptional job this morning and ultimately got the Troop and hour and half ahead of schedule.  They ate breakfast, cleaned up and packed in an hour and half.  Made it to the camp wide flag ceremony and awards and departed about an hour before the rest of the district had their camps taken down.  Our boys pride themselves in this style of camping.  One day the district will come around and have a backpacking score sheet for the camp inspection.
On the way home one of the Scouts said to me that when he first started in the Troop, he thought I talked just to hear my voice… but as he grew in the Troop he realized that I was really saying something.  After 4 years of being passed over for election in the Order of the Arrow, he was finally called out Saturday night.  Finally, he is learning to lead, take responsibility, and his peers felt him to be worthy of membership in Scouting’s honor society.  He thanked me for teaching him.  My response was simple.  You are welcome, now… continue to earn the right to be there.
I think this principle can be applied everywhere in our lives.
Well.. it’s going to be an interesting week here.  I hope yours is great!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

1 extra Degree

I always talk with the Scouts about Good not being good enough. There are many examples of how good will only get you good.. and on the other hand.. there are great examples of how doing your absolute best will get you Best results.
Being an Eagle Scout for example, will give you an edge over a non Eagle Scout when everything else is equal in trying to get a Scholarship or a job. Going that extra mile up a hill will get you a better view. Achievement is not easy and shouldn’t be.. if earning those things that in the end mean more was easy they would be meaningless.
Think about the difference between getting a participation ribbon at Camporee and earning the Top Troop award at Camporee. There is a big difference and only those that apply themselves, work hard, and have the right skills win.
I found this great little video on the net the other day.. think it sums it up well.
Enjoy and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Fat or Fit

There is a big push in the BSA, and our Country right now to get fit.  Why?  Because it makes sense.  Fitness leads to longer, happier lives.  This has been at the fore front of our Troop now for a few months as we are preparing for our first trip to Philmont.
In 2010, I was active with the National Jamboree contingent for our council.  There was a big push for fitness in getting all of our youth and adults in shape.  It was important to us as Oregonians heading from a very temperate climate to the hostile humidity and heat of Virginia.  We started a walking challenge.  Every adult leader was required to wear a pedometer and record mileage walked.  The goal was to walk (in miles) to Virginia and back.  The 4 adults leaders of my Troop walked the equivalent of 3 trips to and from Oregon and Virginia.  We were all concerned about the health and well-being of our Scouts and what a better way to help them than to set a good example.
Well, now Philmont is right around the corner and as we prepare, I can’t help but notice that I have let myself go a little.  Today I took the Physical Wellness online training at the e Learning  site on Scouting.org.  I had to renew my Youth Protection anyway, so while I was there, I thought I would see what the BSA had to say about Physical Wellness.  I have to tell you that the training information was good.  I enjoyed the training until I got to the part where they ask you to check your BMI.  Yep.. reality check.
So I took a look at myself on paper.. then went to the mirror and decided that enough was enough.  Heading back to the Scouting.org website I revisited the BSA Fit site.   There I checked out the blogs of many of the leaders of the BSA and how they are doing in the Walk the Walk challenge.  This lead me to the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.  I found that in the ScoutStrong program, most if not all councils are encouraging members to join the challenge. 
I created an account with the Presidents challenge and set up my challenge to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.. along with my friends from the council.  The ScoutStrong PALA+ is a neat way to track your progress and get fit.
I need to lose 10 pounds before I get to Philmont.  Today I am within the guidelines and my BMI is just over where it needs to be, so its time to lose the fat and get fit.
Now I am not going to update every piece of bread I eat and each ounce of sweat I drop.  It drives me nuts to read about everyone loosing or gaining an ounce here and gram there.  But I do want to share my journey to getting fit and more importantly a life of being well.  I consider myself in ok shape and certainly not fat.  But I can stand to get in better shape and get to a weight that my body will like better.  We are not getting younger and I see myself very active in the years to come.
I would encourage you all to take a look in the mirror and see whether or not you are fat or fit.  It was a wake up for me to see that if I did not start now.. I would be heading in the wrong direction.
You can download the ScoutStrong PALA log from the website.  Join up and track your progress.  Personal Awareness and accountability are keys in successfully accomplishing your goals.
Join me and let’s get fit!
Have a Great Scouting Day!