Even leaders make mistakes

To err is human, said the poet Alexander Pope over three hundred years ago. Everyone makes mistakes. Scouts make mistakes. In fact, the Scouting program is built partly to allow young people to safely make mistakes and learn from them. In the words of Samuel Beckett, No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

But while making mistakes is a common and not often fatal attribute, in certain cases they can cause disruption in an organization. The fatality arises from the inability to recognize mistakes for what they are.

You’ve probably encountered someone who just can’t admit having made a mistake. Continue reading “Even leaders make mistakes”

Lead before you’re a leader

A couple weeks ago, I was at a quarterly Court of Honor for one of the Scouts BSA troops in the area. I had been invited to give a Friends of Scouting presentation to the troop families. As was customary with the troop, the master of ceremonies asked each patrol’s Scouts to introduce themselves by name and rank and to tell their position of responsibility.

I noted that most of the Scouts would say “I don’t have a position in the troop” before concluding their introduction by telling their favorite video game. That didn’t seem right to me – there were only four or five out of thirty or so Scouts who said they had a position. Continue reading “Lead before you’re a leader”

Win your audience

It’s said that there are three secrets to giving a presentation: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them.

This approach is actually quite successful. You want to hook your audience with a taste of what’s to come before delving into the details of your message. You also want to make sure they don’t forget by summarizing what you just said at the end, in case their attention wandered during your talk – the too long, didn’t read version. Continue reading “Win your audience”

Do you plan, or “wing it”?

I’ve had the opportunity to review several Eagle Scout leadership service projects over the years. Just as each Scout is different, so is their level of preparation for their projects. Some have mapped out their projects down to every screw and nail, while others give a more general description of what is being proposed or what was actually done.

I was confronted with the same sort of thing when we were embarking on a family vacation recently. My son likes to plan every aspect of the trip, down to what, where and when, and make all the arrangements. My wife, on the other hand, likes to be more spontaneous and not cling to a fixed plan – rather, intending to decide what to do on the spur of the moment.

There are pros and cons to each sort of approach. Continue reading “Do you plan, or “wing it”?”

A three-step problem solving process

One of the greatest virtues of the Scouting program is that it teaches young people how to solve problems in real time with the resources they have at their disposal. They’re not usually major problems – at least not to us, but to the Scouts, they can befuddle and confuse until they set themselves in the right direction.

I recently read an article by Tommy Gray, CPBE, in a broadcast engineering trade magazine. We broadcast engineers often face puzzling problems that need to be resolved quickly. Gray offered the advice that you are never totally down if you use your head. There are three things to keep in mind, Continue reading “A three-step problem solving process”