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Posts Tagged ‘Boy Scouts’

A Leader’s Perspective

August 5, 2011 3 comments

Leadership Tom Watson Jr. was, by all accounts, a visionary leader.

As President of IBM from 1952 to 1971, he was instrumental in the information revolution and the development of the modern computer. He also served as the president of the Boy Scouts of America and as the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union. He was an avid pilot and sailor as well.

His remarkable vision, however, extended beyond the spheres of business, politics, and adventure. He also had vision when it came to people:

As the story goes, A young executive was once summoned to Watson’s office after making multiple poor decisions that had cost IBM millions of dollars. As he entered Watson’s office, the young executive said, “I suppose after that set of mistakes you will want to fire me.”

“Not at all,” Watson replied, “we have just spent a couple of million dollars educating you!”

We often hear of great leaders who look into a situation, an industry, or a market and see something that no one else sees—then forge a way to bring it about. Exceptional leaders apply that vision to their people as well, peering into them, seeing what’s possible, and finding a way to realize it.

How have you been affected by a leader?

10 Things I Learned from Boy Scouts

August 3, 2010 14 comments

fun boys leadershipThe Boy Scouts of America are celebrating their 100-year anniversary this year. A few months ago I shared the story of how it started. Right now my nephew is enjoying the last day of the National Scout Jamboree along with tens of thousands of other teenage boys.

Watching the arena show over the internet Saturday night reminded me of how much I got from Scouting myself.

Here are ten things Boy Scouts taught me:

1. How to tie knots. I’m amazed how many people don’t know how to tie a good knot – let alone the right knot for the right job. If that’s you, here are some basics.

2. Working hard and playing hard go together. Pour yourself fully into whatever you’re doing. I can remember getting home Sunday afternoon after a campout, falling asleep, and not waking up until the next morning. To this day, I don’t know if it was the work or the fun that wore me out more.

3. How to build a fire. Something stirs deep within a man’s soul when he masters fire. If you’ve ever nurtured spark into flame – on purpose – you know what I mean.

4. Teamwork works. Boy Scouts aren’t saints; they’re normal boys – complete with all the bravado, awkwardness, and selfishness associated with most adolescent males. How we learned together to overcome our immaturity and find ways to work as a team continues to serve me with grown-ups today.

5. How to face fear. I learned to swim before I was a scout. At scout camp I got the chance to swim a mile. Then I learned how to swim out to a thrashing, drowning person twice my size, subdue him, and drag him to safety. I threw up the morning before my Lifesaving Merit Badge test.

6. Farts are flammable. ‘nuf said.

7. How to cook on a campfire. I can make more than cereal now because I was forced to cook breakfast and dinner over open flames.

8. Lots of archaic stuff. I learned to ride a horse, use a compass, shoot a bow and arrow, navigate by the stars, built a lean-to, tell time from the sun, identify edible plants, show respect to others, keep myself physically fit, be prepared, and to help other people even when it’s inconvenient.

9. How to be miserable…and like it. Let’s face it, for most of us being uncomfortable at times is just part of life. Learning to be cheerful in miserable conditions has been a wonderfully freeing skill. Life is an adventure and rarely goes as planned, but whatever happens there’s a joy if you can find it.

10. Service is powerful. Ultimately Scouting works because it’s focused on something more than just campouts and merit badges and troop meetings. We were – and are – part of something bigger than ourselves; an organization that is, at its core, about serving others.

What did you learn from Scouts or a similar program?

Categories: Leadership Tags: , , ,

The Story of One Good Turn

February 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Scout Oath Leadership RockwellIn 1909, an American businessman became disoriented in a dense London fog. As he stood under a street light trying to find his way, a boy emerged out of the mist and asked if he could be of help.

“You certainly can,” replied the American. He shared the business he was trying to find and the boy promptly offered to lead him to the address himself. When they arrived at his destination, the businessman reached into his pocket for a tip – but the boy stopped him.

“No thank you, sir. I am a Scout. I won’t take anything for helping.”

“A Scout? And what might that be?” asked the man.

The boy told the American about himself and the movement that Lord Baden-Powell had begun a few years earlier. The businessman was so intrigued that he asked for directions to the British Scouting Office. There he learned more about the organization Baden-Powell founded to train boys in outdoor skills, mental acuity, and leadership.

That American businessman was Chicago publisher William D. Boyce and he was so impressed with Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts, that he brought the idea home with him. On February 8, 1910 – exactly 100 years ago today – Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America.

What ever happened to the boy who came to Boyce’s aid in the London fog? No one knows. He neither asked for money nor gave his name, but his good turn that day brought scouting to America.

Since its inception over 110 million Americans have been Boy Scouts and over 2 million have earned their Eagle Scout rank. Some notable Eagle Scouts include Neil Armstrong, Michael Bloomberg, Ross Perot, and Steven Spielberg.

To this day, some of my fondest childhood memories are from Boy Scout campouts and earning my Eagle was one of the highlights of my young life. It was as a young Scout that I had my first opportunities to follow, to serve, and to lead…

…all because a hundred years ago some unknown kid helped out a stranger.

The slogan of the Boy Scouts is “Do a Good Turn Daily.” What will your good turn be today?