A few years ago, I was going through some old mementos and found the staff binder for the Troop Leadership Development training program. As I looked through the materials, it hit me that a lot of the leadership foundations I built on as an executive and now as a coach were formed in Scouts. I owe that to my grandfather, his example and the desire that he created in me to be like him.
Embedded in this simple honoring of his grandfather, Scott illuminates the hidden secret of leadership that is at the core of scouting's approach to leadership.
That simple idea is mentoring.
In scouting, the philosophy of leadership is built around the idea of a troop being "boy-led" and patrol (re:team) oriented. In reality, adult leaders help boys 10-17 years old learn to make decisions and cope with the success and failure of them. We mentor them by helping them thinking through why things didn't work on that camp out, so they can be better prepared next time.
At a party a couple weeks ago for a friend home on leave from the war in Iraq, I had a conversation with Coral and Brent Jeffries about the education of boys. Coral, you may recall, is the founder of New City Christian School, an elementary school for urban youth that I wrote about here. We talked about scouting's approach to the development of boys. Part of that discussion centered on the achievement and skills development aspect of learning.
In scouting, boys can find immediate success through their own initiative and hard work. They can advance through ranks that are marked by differing skills and requirements. In order for the achievement to mean something beyond getting it done, the mentor's role is important. This is why I believe scouting is so important to the development of leadership for our communities and nation.
Scott ends his tribute to his grandfather with these words.
The slogan of the Boy Scouts is “Do a good turn daily.” My grandfather embodied that idea throughout his life. Through his actions, he set a standard that I’ve aspired to throughout my life and one day hope to reach. Mother Teresa said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” That was how Leonard Eblin lived his life — one small thing after another and always with great love. Quietly, humbly and with good humor he made a difference in the lives of thousands of others. Other than expressing my thanks for the gift of his life, I don’t know a better way to end this post than with the grace he recited so many times with all the Scouts at Philmont:
For food, for raiment
For life, for opportunity
For friendship and fellowship
We thank thee, O Lord.
Rest in peace, good Scout. See you on the trail.
Yes, Leonard, we'll see you on the trail. Godspeed.