Eagle Court of Honor Benediction

Recently I was invited to provide the benedeiction at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a young man I’ve known a very long time. I was honored to do so. I love the tradition of the benediction, a blessing given to those in attendance, and in the case of an Eagle Court of Honor, a blessing upon the new Eagle himself.

I wrote this specifically for this young man, but many have asked for copies of it. So I thought I’d share it here.

May honesty and integrity be your guide so that you can always stand by your word, a Scout is Trustworthy.

May you stand by your family, your friends and your country, even when it’s difficult and at times you may feel like you are standing alone, a Scout is Loyal.

May you always offer a helping hand or a cup of cold water to those in need, whether or not they ask for it, a Scout is Helpful.

May you always be the type of person that people want to be with, work with and live with, a Scout is Friendly.

May you always show respect to everyone, even those who may not seem to deserve it, a Scout is Courteous.

May harm never fall to anyone or anything due to your actions, a Scout is Kind.

May you always follow the laws of man and of God, a Scout is Obedient.

May you greet each and every person with a smile each and every day, a Scout is Cheerful.

May you cherish the gifts God has bestowed on you and never take them for granted, a Scout is Thrifty.

May the courage you have shown thus far in life only grow as you face steeper challenges on the road ahead, a Scout is Brave.

May your words, your mind and your body remain pure as God intended, a Scout is Clean.

May you always love and honor the God which created you in His image, a Scout is Reverent.

May you keep yourself Physically Strong, Mentally Awake and Morally Straight.

And, May the Great Scoutmaster of all Scouts, be with us until we meet again.
Amen.

What a difference a year makes

Last year at this time I was at the beginning of a new stage of my career.  After an unexpected layoff and the first time not being employeed in nearly a quarter-century, I found myself in an unfamiliar place. 

I had spent my entire career working in IT shops of large corporations.  Three Fortune 500 companies had been my place of employment over 24 years.  Now I found myself in a company that was smaller than the departments I had been in.  Everything about this job was different.  The type of work, the type of company, the type of boss, the type of people, the type of office…. you name it, it was new to me.

I decided that I was going to go into it full bore, roll the dice, and just see what happened.  What I found was a job that has given me more fulfilment, more fun, and more excitement than anything I experienced in the corporate world. 

What has made this so much fun?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • The ability to trace my actions straight to the bottom line of the company.
  • The ability to make decisions without multiple levels of review, oversight and second-guessing.
  • The ability to get out of the box and be creative, harnassing the entrepreneur in each of us.
  • The ability to step out of your comfort zone and lead in various capacities (my role has expanded beyond IT into almost every aspect of the business).

Bottom line, I believe the fundamental thing that has made this job enjoyable is the ability to make a difference!  I’ve heard before that the number one thing employees want from their employers is appreciation.  No greater apprecation can be found than to believe you make a difference in an organization.

My encouragement for anyone going through an unexpected job change is to keep your eyes open.  You never know where your next opportunity will come from.  And no matter how different it may feel to you, it may end up leading to the most fun you’ve had (on the job) in a long time!   Good luck and God Bless!

Two Sets of Threes

I’ve always been impressed with Coach John Wooden (even though I’m not a UCLA fan). His accomplishments, on and off the court, are indisputable.  I’m reading Pat William’s book about Coach Wooden and the principles that were passed from his father to the coach that shaped his life.

One of the early examples of his father’s wisdom given in the book is the “Two sets of threes”. These rules to live by are: “Never lie, never cheat, never steal”, and “Don’t whine, don’t complain and don’t make excuses”.

What a simple set of life principles you find here. In the first set of three, we are encouraged to keep our life straight. The best way to stay out of trouble is to avoid the “big three”…. We’ve heard them all our lives: to not lie, cheat or steal. This simple and solid advice that is eternal.

Most of us probably do a fairly good job of adhering to the first three.  But the latter three are a little harder for most of us. It seems like whining, complaining and making excuses are almost a rite of passage into the world today. We probably first think of teenagers when we think of these traits. But I believe we see them in people of all ages. After all, where do teenagers learn these traits? Adults, of course.

Coach Wooden had a hard life as a child, and his dad ran into some very unfortunate situations. But, he adhered to this code and never whined or complained. He took what life gave him, and without excuse, managed to raise a great family amid the challlenges he’s faced.

Undoubtedly, most of us have run up against whiners and complainers in our workplace. I don’t think there is a much more destructive force in an organization. As a manager, dealing with these negative traits will often zap me of my energy. If I’m not careful, dealing with complainers end up negating other good things going on, and negatively impact my own performance.

As a leader I believe we need to do three things:
1) Set an example by being positive, not making excuses, and not whining or complaining.
2) Do not allow a whiner to take away our energy, but to instead use our energy to turn them around.
3) Deal with negative personalitiies, even if it means removing them from the organization, before they poison those around them.

These are tough remedies, but if we are to truly lead organizations out of the cycle of negativity, we have to take the tough steps. 

Good luck, and don’t forget the two sets of threes.