I took an opportunity to re-register with the Boy Scouts and I am planning to help with some projects that seem to be forming. The prospect of contributing is very exciting, but this begin-again is a little scary. I had once belonged (I was active for almost 20 years) and I was quite active. Then I didn’t belong, and now I can go again. Recently I attended a leadership training event. It has been a long time since I have put on my uniform and headed into a camp. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I knew things would be ok. It’s like riding a bike, right? This boy scout stuff is part of my DNA. At this point in life it is hard not to think from that scouting foundation. These programs are part of my formation as a person, and I like to think – part of my formation as a leader.
The information (or the lack of information) before the event was a little frustrating, and somehow added to my initial discomfort. Happily, it all worked in the end. The mental journey at the event was not what I expected…at all. I did not expect this trip home to be so full of so much emotion and feeling. My purpose for being at the event was just to observe and listen to the program. It has been a while since I sat in that seminar and things have changed. The thinking was that as a leadership professor I might be able to contribute to their overall process. While listening my mind was racing as fast as my note taking. I realized I was a little jealous of the trainers; I love training and speaking and wanted to be there with them. I was angry, that was a huge surprise. The anger with the circumstances didn’t allow for me to be involved all these years. That one really threw me off. It took a lot of concentrating to take my notes, record some ideas, and process my own stuff. In counseling we call this unfinished business. That is the stuff we thought we dealt with; then it sneaks up and slaps you…it slaps hard. That’s gonna leave a mark. I managed all of those twists and turns and loop-de-loops.
By the time the rollercoaster car pulled into the station again I think I moved through my stuff. At one point in the weekend we said the oath for this part of the boy scout program. As I started repeating it I was so proud of the fact that it was ALL right there – I remembered it exactly. But wait, this time I had to stop. I was so moved I almost started to cry. This oath was important to me as a kid and now it meant so much more. The same thing happened when we sang the song. I had to take a deep breath, fight back the tears and move on. There may be more to this DNA thing than I realized.
The BSA was my fraternity. Some of my closest and long term friends are from those formative days. This weekend event reiterated all of that for me. I was attending with one of my long time friends, the guy that pulled me back into the program. He is a few years older than me and he held all of the leadership positions I had (he held a lot more actually). This guy is more than a friend. He has been a mentor and a role model for me in many things and now, here we are again. He was the guy that got me started with some leadership. His words then, “we have plans for you” seem prescient again. I had a bond with the other guys at this particular event and that energy was immediate. The fact that these young men and adult leaders at this event were perfect models of the Scout Oath, Law, and the admonition was part of the reason it was so easy to fit in again.
Jung talks about the collective unconscious and that was in full force here. At one point my friend/mentor said, “I saw you with the staff and it looked like you were in your element.” I was indeed. For the first time ever I got to be the leadership guy, the professor, the adviser, and a bit of a coach ALL through the lens of the boy scouts. In my head I play all of those parts from a boy scout basis all the time, but NOW I was able to BE all of those things. One of my favorite responses when someone asks if I was an Eagle Scout is to correct them by saying, “I am an Eagle Scout.”
It has been said, it is hard to go home, or that you can never go home again. I like the quote (by philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus) that you can never step in the same river twice because the water is always moving. Time rolls on and things happen. The Billy Joel song, We didn’t start the fire, seems to make sense here. Going home can give us a metaphorical group hug. Being there can be difficult because things change. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be part of the future changes. Everything changes and we can either participate by default or by design. Watching what happens is default, maybe apathy. Being active and engaging in collaboration is more of a design approach.
We all have the ability to make choices. Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory posits that EVERYTHING is a choice. We have the ability to contribute to the organization or not. Using our talents and strengths is the capability and the competencies we have to offer. Leadership is this process of mobilizing everyone together so that we all thrive.
So, where’s home for you? What is part of your DNA and what got you to this point? Who is your mentor? Have you called her/him to let them know they influenced your ability and leadership?