Ideals

Your Legacy – Mentoring

eaglementorWhen teaching leadership to both our youth and adults, we spend a fair amount of time discussing what it is that leaders do.  Being a Teacher, Coach, Trainer, and Mentor is found within the job description of any leader.  We find ourselves as leaders focusing on being a good teacher of skills, coaching as those skills are applied, and training our leaders to be effective.  But what of being a mentor?
Not every leader is a mentor.  We tend to throw that around a bit too much in Scouting.  We have “Eagle Mentors”  We have “Unit mentors”, we even consider “Troop Guides” in the context of Wood Badge as a mentor.  But are they really mentors in the sense of having a lasting impact on the life of someone else.
Webster defines the word Mentor as; a trusted guide or counselor.  Other words are Tutor or Coach.
I think that a lot of leaders consider themselves as mentors, but as I look back on those that I consider my mentors I can’t help but go back to the definition.  Trusted guide.  And again,I ask myself what impact if any did this person have on my life.
Looking back, I honestly consider only a few people as a mentor.
In my life I break it down to a few areas.  Work, Spiritual life, Scouting, and becoming a man.
Work.
At UPS I do not consider any one person a mentor.  The work environment tends not to value leadership, rather there is a need to manage everything at UPS as material.  In the Army however, I have had a few mentors.  Men that really made a big impact on my leadership style and ability to lead.
In the Army there is a program that places fellow soldiers, leaders, in a position to develop their subordinates.  The Non Commissioned Officer Development Program (NCODP) is designed to make junior leaders better.  I had a First Sergeant named Ted Godwin that showed me how to use the tool box of leadership to care for soldiers.  He instilled in me the concept of Mission First, Men always.  This may seem like a little thing, but at the end of the day, that is what makes for effective leaders.  In the Army, with the division of leadership roles between the Officer Corps and the Non Commissioned Officer Corps it is the NCO that ensures the men are ready for the mission.  If the men are not ready, there is little chance for the mission to be accomplished.
The basic understanding of being a caring leader, one that truly understands those that he leads became one of the hallmarks of my leadership and a lesson that I passed on to those that I lead when I was placed in a position to mentor younger soldiers.
It was his trusted leadership style that inspired me to be a leader.  When he spoke, we listened.  When he instructed, we learned.
Another mentor of mine in the Army was Command Sergeant Major Cliff Neil.  He was a technical leader and understood why people act the way they do.  He was not a tactical superstar, but when it came to behavior, he was provided hours of lessons on how to be an effective counselor and dig deeper into the reasons why a soldier acted the way he did.  He showed me that everything is not always black or white… grey sneaks in to leadership and it is the effective leader that understands that will change behavior.  Changing behavior is the goal of discipline in the sense of punishment.  It is not a sign of weak leadership to know why.    CSM Neil was tough, but fair and made me an outstanding First Sergeant.  His impact on me was manifest when I became a Sergeant Major and was placed in a position to teaching my First Sergeants.  I adopted the grey area when the First Sergeants saw only black and white.  Typically we could change behavior without destroying a soldier’s career and livelihood.
Again, a leader that I trusted was leading me in the direction of becoming an effective leader.
In my Spiritual Life, I developed a friendship and allowed Fr. Rick Sarianni to be a trusted adviser.  I valued our talks and his understanding of me and my walk in faith.  I have known many Pastors, but Fr. Rick was a special friend that lead me to a clearer understanding of just what I believe and why I believe it.
In Scouting I have many friends that have helped me along the way and some that really made an impact on the Scoutmaster that I have become.  I won’t go into the specifics as there are many, but it I feel it important that I name at least two of the men that have made a big impact on me as a Scouter.  Tim Steenbergen gave me sage advise when I was a new Scoutmaster.  Program, Program, Program was his mantra and I have taken that to the bank.  John Caputo is the other.  John is the ultimate Scouter.  I had the absolute privilege to serve on his Wood Badge staff.  I met John the first time as a learner at Wood Badge in 2005.  He left an impression on me and we became friends.  I always looked to him as a role model in Scouting.  His wisdom and knowledge of the program and how to deliver the promise.  Over the past 10 years, John has always been there with advise and instruction.  Watching him as I have staffed on two Wood Badge Courses has been a pleasure and I have learned and taken many lessons from him along the way.
Again, two trusted counselors that left a large impact on me as a Scout leader.  Along the way as a Wood badge staffer I have been blessed to learn from dedicated leaders and folks that have an equal love for Scouting.
Being a Man.
There are four people who made me the man who I am today.  The first is my Dad.  He showed me the value of family and how to treat people.  I can go on and on about the lessons learned from him.
The other three are my two sons and my daughter.  Little did they know, but they guided me to being the Dad and man that I am.  They forced me to lead them and be consistent in how I raised them.  Without their pushing my life could have been different.  The obligation of being a Father was something that I could not take lightly.  The proof is in the pudding as they say.  I am a good man for them and they turned out to be fantastic young adults.
When a young man becomes an Eagle Scout we challenge him to prove that he earned it every day.  My wife has done that for me daily as we challenge on another to be good parents and people who can show our kids the way to being good adults.
So being a mentor is not something that just comes with leadership, it is something that has to be taken on as an obligation with the understanding that you will be impacting the life of someone else.  As I said, not all leaders are mentors.  I can think of many leaders that have come and gone throughout my life that I will never consider a mentor.  They were neither a trusted counselor nor would I consider them wise in the lessons learned.  By definition these leaders just lead.  In so far as their impact on me, I can not measure it.
Being a mentor is leaving your legacy.  That in and of itself seems to be lofty, but in the end, it is what mentor-ship is all about.  Passing on what I have to the next the generation.  Giving the gift of knowledge, of life skills and lessons, of whatever wisdom I have acquired to the next generation.
The other night after our latest Eagle Court of Honor I removed the Mentor Pin from my shirt that had just been placed there by our newest Eagle Scout.  This pin means the world to me, as do the other mentor pins I have received over the years.  I took a mental inventory of those pins and the Scouts that felt as though I had made an impact on their lives.  A pin from one of the Scouts of my Jamboree Troop back in 2010.  He gave me the pin stating that had it not been for me being his Scoutmaster at Jamboree he would have quit Scouting all together and would have never finished his Eagle Award.  Another Scout from my Troop presented me a mentor pin along with a picture of the two of us on a camp out.  He shared that the life lessons he learned from me are shaping him into the man who he wants to be.  Yet another pin reminded me of the young man that I have known all of his Scouting life.  He had always been a work in progress, but in the end blossomed into a fine young man.  He credited my straight talk and insistence on taking care of the little things to insure success.  He is well on his way to being a good man and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow.
It is that obligation to making an impact that I take serious.  Not every Scout, or person for that matter seeks guidance.   Sometimes it comes without a plea, it is a young man who hovers in the background taking it all in, that one day shakes your hand and thanks you for what you have done.
Understand this, Your actions, Your wisdom, Your behavior, and Your willingness to make a real difference in the life of someone else is what matters when in comes to being a mentor.
Trust, Competence, Being a Friend, these are qualities of being a mentor.  It is not the patch that you wear or the position that you hold.  It is your willingness to serve.
Leaving your legacy must be important to you, not for ego or pride, but for the future of those you mentor.
What is your impact, what is your legacy?  Are you a mentor?

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Let me tell you about my week…

joshgradIt started like most weeks, a Troop meeting on Monday night then the rest of the week was all about my youngest son’s High School Graduation from Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon.  You may have heard about our little town.
Troutdale sits at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia rivers.  The town was founded back in 1792 by Lt. Broughton and his men.  There is a bluff named after him that over looks the town.  The City of Troutdale was not incorporated till 1907 though and was a stop on the way to Portland along the rail that made its way through the famous Columbia River Gorge.
We have two Elementary Schools, one Middle School, and one High School in the City of Troutdale.  The High School serves a big chunk of East Multnomah County (all the way into Portland) and is the second largest High School in the State of Oregon.
You may have heard of the High Schools fantastic Music program, vocational education, and center for advanced learning.  Or maybe you know of Reynolds High School because of its great Arts and Communication Center.  It is a state of the art complex.  It may be the outstanding athletics of Reynolds High.  If you are a part of our community you would know of lots of great things that happen at our High School.  Instead you know of a shooting.  5 rounds fired, two students dead, one was the student that did the shooting, one teacher grazed, an entire community in shock.
That’s what you know about our High School.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday, hair cuts and party preparations for Josh’s graduation.
Thursday, Lunch with the family at a nice Italian place in downtown Troutdale then off to graduation.  Very great to watch these young men and women cross over into adulthood with their High School diplomas.  I have known so many of these kids since they were toddlers.  It is great to see how grown up they are.
Speeches about adversity and learning from life’s hardships, your standard commencement speeches and then off to chaperon the Senior All night Party.  A super fun night playing games out at Bull Winkles Fun Center.  Had a Ball.
Friday was all about preparations for the big party Saturday.  Friday we had a birthday party for my niece.
Saturday the big party.  Cooked 85 servings of chicken, all prepared in the dutch ovens and all of the fixings.  Great turn out and a fun party.
Sunday (the day of rest) I was awakened by a phone call from my son serving in the Army.  Just a father’s day greeting and we talked for an hour.  Next hour on the phone with my dad, then off to clean up the last stuff from the party.
A great Fathers day dessert with Dad and family and now time to relax.
Sorry if I didn’t blog this week… You can see why.
What I know for sure.
The media will turn corn flakes into a circus.  I will not take anything away from the tragic loss of the families involved in the shooting in school gym.  I pray for them and recognize their pain.  But enough already with the media looking for a story that is not there.  They made the graduation a complete circus and it made a lot of the families there that wanted to celebrate their son or daughters achievement second to an event that no one can do anything about now a circus and they were not pleased.  It’s done, over, and hopefully will not happen again.
I will not debate any of the issues that hover around this.  I have my opinions and will not turn my blog into that circus.
Thursday was my sons day.  It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and the results of four great years and a positive High School experience.  One shooting will not ruin that for him.  Again, not to take anything away from the families, but someone is shot in Portland every day.. never makes the news.
It made out week, a week that was all about the Seniors an emotional roller coaster, but in the end, the Seniors showed that this would not define their high school story.  They partied and had an awesome celebration of their lives and their futures.  I applaud them for that.
Here was else I know for sure.
Life is short.  Hug you kids every day and then hug them some more.  Love them and teach them to love.  Be an example of Character to your kids.  Know who your kids are and share in their lives.  You need not be their buddy, you need to be their parent.
Volunteer at the School.  Know the School and what your kids do there.  Be apart of their education.  Teachers can not do it alone.
Help your kids be successful.  Know that when they fail they need a hand to get back up.
Have dinner together, even if it’s not at the table.
Talk to your kids, know them, and love them.
What a hell of a week.  Glad tomorrow is Monday and we can do it all over again.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Habit of Service

goodturncoinDuring my recent Vigil Ordeal I had lots of time to sit and think.  Being a student of Baden Powell, thought about the book Aides to Scoutmastership.  Powell authored this book in 1920 and its contents hold true today.  Substitute King and Queen and some of the Victorian era language, and the message Baden Powell sent to Scoutmasters in 2014 is spot on.
During Vigil Ordeal I gave a lot of thought to the idea of service.  After all, this was the central focus of the Vigil. Learning about myself and finding that way in which I could be a leader in service.
When I got home I went to my copy of Aides to Scoutmastership and reread it knowing that our Founder would once again speak to me from its pages.
I stumbled on this passage that I will share in its entirety.  It speaks volumes as to our attitude of service and the importance of developing in our Scouts that habit of service.
When I was a Scout we had a little coin that we carried, it reminded us to “Do a Good Turn Daily”.  Once the good turn was done, the coin was transferred to the other pocket, and so it went one good turn after another.
I hope you find this passage as meaningful as I do.
TO ERADICATE SELFISHNESS – THE GOOD TURN HABIT
The Scouting practices tend in a practical way to educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness. Once he becomes charitable he is well on the way to overcome or to eradicate the danger of this habit.  The Promise that a Scout makes on joining has as its first point: “To do my duty to God.” Note that it does not say “To be loyal to God,” since this would merely be a state of mind, but to do something, which is the positive, active attitude.
The main method in the Boy Scout Movement is to give some form of positive training rather than merely to inculcate negative precepts, since the boy is always ready to do rather than to digest.
Therefore, we put into his activities the practice of Good Turns in his daily life as a foundation of future goodwill and helpfulness to others. The religious basis underlying this is common to all denominations, and we, therefore, interfere with the form of none.
The boy can then realize better that part of his “Duty to God” is to take care of and develop as a sacred trust those talents with which God has equipped him for his passage through this life; the body with its health and strength and reproductive powers to be used in God’s service; the mind with its wonderful reasoning, memory and appreciation, which place him above the animal world; and the soul, that bit of God which is within him-namely, Love, which can be developed and made stronger by continual expression and practice. Thus we teach him that to do his Duty to God means, not merely to lean on His kindness, but to do His will by practicing love towards one’s neighbor.
The curious thing is that this duty of Service for Others through Good Turns is the one to which Scouts rise with the fullest alacrity. On this seemingly small foundation (the giving up of small personal conveniences or pleasures in order to render service) is built the character of self-sacrifice for others.
Let me know what you think of this passage and share your ideas about growing an attitude of service in your Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

What Pleases Jerry

IMG_6206It is interesting to hear what our Scouts think and say.  At most of their ages, they have not yet learned to filter their conversations based on who they are around or what the circumstances may be.  On the way to our last camp out a younger Scout asked an older Scout what they had to do at the camp out.  The response from the older Scout was this, “What ever pleases Jerry.”
Now I know this young man and I know that he was being sarcastic to a point, and on the other hand, I know that his comment was directed at the fact that I hold the older Scouts to a higher standard and ask them to demonstrate leadership.  This Scout would much rather sit around and do nothing in most cases… and by and large, that is exactly what he and his buddy did during the last camp out.
What this and other Scouts fail to realize is that his response to the younger Scout is actually 100% accurate.  “Whatever pleases Jerry” is actually the right answer.
So what pleases Jerry?
1.  When the Scouts have fun.
2.  When the Scouts learn.
3.  When the Scouts demonstrate leadership.
4.  When the Scouts seek and find adventure.
5.  When the Scouts develop the bonds of a high performance team.
6.  When the Scouts have a sense of accomplishment.
7.  When the Scouts get the opportunity to see and do something new.
8.  When the Scouts practice leadership and find success in their skills.
9.  When the Scouts learn that winning is better than losing in life.
and finally…
10. When a Scout looks back on Scouting, smiles, and knows it was worth his time.
That is what pleases Jerry.
So Mr. Older Scout… you nailed it!  And guess what.  The Scout you told that to lived up to that expectation.
Thank You!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Delivering the scolding… or promise?

BP“The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.”
“The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of another brother.”
“The spirit is there in every boy; it has to be discovered and brought to light.”
“There is no teaching to compare with example.”
“To get a hold on boys you must be their friend.”
I know that it is bad form to start with a list of quotes, but all of these quotes are from the founder of Scouting, Baden-Powell.  They come to mind when I look back on this weekend and some of the things that I saw at our District Camporee.
The question is Why?  Why do some Scoutmasters feel the need to make Scouting a chore?  Why do they insist on not making it fun for the Scouts?  Why is there is a reason to yell or belittle a Scout?  Why?
I wish I could say that this is an isolated case and I am talking about one Scout Leader.  But I am not.
Here is the problem as I see it.  These leaders have no idea what Scouting is supposed to look like.  One particular Scoutmaster explained to me that what the Scouts lack is discipline and it was his job to make sure they are disciplined.  You see, I feel that is the parents job.
The same Scoutmaster yelled at his troop over a bent tent-peg.
Another leader explained to me that Scouting is supposed to make our boys gentlemen and respectful.  I asked if her example was helping as she screamed at a Scout for playing with his patrol mates.
Yet another Scout leader had a group of Scouts at attention as they were dressed up and down about not doing well in their uniform inspection.  The leader’s shirt was un-tucked and looked like he slept in it and instead of a Scout hat or Troop hat, he was wearing a hunting hat as he ripped a Scout a new one over not wearing his Troop hat.
Why?
And we wonder why Scouts leave.  I even talked with a Scout who would love to leave his Troop, but can’t because his Dad is one of the leaders.  Really?
This weekends Camporee was fun.  It was one of the better camporees we have had in a while, so why do the adult have to screw it up for the boys.
Again, they clearly do not understand what Scouting is all about.
We are not the Army.  We are not a boarding school for wayward boys.  This is Scouting and above all, the boys need to have fun.  It is that game with a purpose that will teach them the skills to deal with life’s challenges and develop those life long values that will guide them to be disciplined and self-reliant.
How can a boy discover that light when the adults around him are constantly looking to snuff it?  How can a boy learn to play the game, when the rules change or are unclear?  How friendly is the constant brow beating?
I think that some leaders need to take a look in the mirror and find out if they are delivering the promise of Scouting or just a good scolding.
The best part of the discussion I had with our Anti Powell was when he pointed to my Troop, at the time they were all playing Frisbee in a field between the camp sites.  Loud laughter and complete grab ass was in full effect.  He pointed out that camporee was not about playing.. it was about competition.  I explained that there is certainly a time and a place for everything.  He said, “Look at your camp site… no matching tents, no patrol boxes, no discipline.”  I explained that we are a backpacking troop and do not have patrol boxes or matching tents, and so far as discipline, we have plenty of that.  It comes with living the Scout oath and law.  Then in a moment of arrogance, I pointed out that what he was looking at was the Troop of the Year and we are doing it right.  With that, I bid him a good day and joined the boys in the game of Ultimate Frisbee.
Camporee was a fun time and a great experience for our Troop.  They all had fun and competed well.  It is unfortunate that there are leaders out there that just don’t get it.  If only they took the time and put in the effort to delivering the promise of Scouting, using the same energy they put into yelling, berating, and making life hard for their Scouts, they would have great Troops.  The boys are there and willing, they need good adults to have the heart of a Boy and do Scouting the way the founder wanted it to be.
If only.
I had a great weekend with the Scouts of our Troop.  It’s why we keep playing this game.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

One Life

Spirit of AmericaThe other night I had the pleasure of sitting in as an advocate for a Scout in my Troop at his Eagle Board of Review.
I enjoy the position that the Scoutmaster is placed in as the advocate, physically the Scoutmaster sits behind and out of the view of the Scout and mentally, it is a great place to learn from the Scout to know that you are truly delivering the promise of Scouting.
The first question the board asked this young man was if he had ever looked at the back of his Scout Handbook.  On the back cover are the Aims of Scouting.  The Scout replied that he had not looked at the back.  The board asked him to pick up his book and read it.  Then asked if he was aware that these were the aims or goals of Scouting.  He said that he did know that.  How did you know that they wanted to know.  My Scoutmaster does not stop talking about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness the Scout said in a matter of fact.  They chuckled a bit and then asked what he thought about those three words and how much they meant to Scouting.  His answer knocked me out of my chair.  He looked at the board and said “Those three words mean more to me than this award.  They mean that I am a good man and that I will always be a good man.”
From that point on I knew that this board was going to be interesting.  And it was.  He had an opinion when they asked for one, he talked about the great times that he had in Scouting and he shared what he had learned about being a leader.
As I sat behind him I felt deep pride in this young man and listened as he confirmed that we really are providing a program that the boys get.
To close the board, they asked about the Scout Oath and Law.  He shared his feelings, understanding, and practice of living the Oath and Law daily.  Not without challenge and difficulty but the bottom line was that he is that person every day.
This got me to thinking about comments I have heard from Scouts and Scouts all over.  It reminded me of an on going discussion that we have about being a Scout and living Scout like all of the time, the fact that we only have One Life.
We are what our Facebook Status says we are.  We are what our Twitter account looks like.  We are where we hang out and the people that we associate with.  We are what we say and what we do.  That defines our Character.
You are not just a Christian on Sunday, you not just a Scout on Monday nights, you are not just a Dad when the kids are around, you are not just a Scoutmaster when you wear the hat.
There is no separation.  There can’t be, that goes against the principle of Character.  Choose to accept that or not but your Character will be your guide and that is when you will have to face the reality of who and what you are.
I stress character all the time in our Troop, in fact I care more about character than anything else in Scouting.  I don’t care if a Scout earns his Eagle if he has not got the point about character, citizenship, and being mentally and physically fit.  If he did not get it, he just got another patch and the award will be meaningless.
We hold the Eagle award up on that lofty space for that reason, we all do it.  Every one respects and admire those that have earned this award and rightly so…if they got it.  If they make that choice to have one life and that is the life of Character.
I was asked by a Scout why I will not friend him on Facebook.  I make it a practice not to friend Scouts or any minor that is not family on Facebook.  It is not because of what I might put on the internet… it’s that I don’t want to be placed in a position to know what they are putting on the internet.  I would rather have them make good choices and discuss it during conferences.  Facebook is not where I want to build my discussion bullets for the next time I see the Scout.
You have but one life.  You do not get to split out your internet life and your real life.  You have the ability to maintain good character.  Once you decide to part ways with it, it can not come back.  Once the bell is rung, you can not un-ring it.
Think before you act, pause before you hit enter, read before you press send.  Character matters.
“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Reflection

reflectionIt is always a great idea to take time a do some reflection.  I do not want to get to deep here, but reflection is a big part of learning and getting better.
We do reflections after Scouting activities, games, events, and circumstances that put us in a position in which decisions are made and out comes may be different.
Sunday I had the pleasure of presenting a class at the current Wood Badge Course.  When I walked in I was greeted by my Wood Badge friends and of course we all shared a laugh and a story or two.
Before I left, my good friend Steve handed me a piece of paper.  On it was a couple reflections that they used the previous night after the “Game of Life” was played.  Now for those of you that have been to Wood Badge, you know what I am talking about, for those of you that have not yet gone… well I will not spoil it for you other than to maybe give you a nice thought to remember as you go through your daily “Game of Life”.
It is from an anonymous source so I have no idea where it originated, but it works.
In life we do things.  Some we wish we had never done.  Some we wish we could replay a million times over in our heads, but they all make us who we are, and in the end they shape every detail about us.  If we were to reverse any of them we wouldn’t be the person we are.  So just live, make mistakes, have wonderful memories, but never ever second guess who you are or where you have been.. And most importantly where it is you are going.
I would only add that Character will be your underlying guide.  With Character you never need to second guess.
This is why we teach and hold dear our Scout Oath and Law.
Just a little reflection.
Have a Great Scouting Day!