Giving Up for the Team

baseball - sacrifice to winWhen a baseball team is up to bat, the objective is to move a player around the bases to score.  With the way that the rules work, there are a variety of ways to move a runner to the next base. One of the ways is for the batter, at a critical point, to create a situation to get himself out to allow a runner to advance; for example hitting the ball deep to the outfield so a runner can tag and advance or bunting the ball so the only play is to first base and a runner can advance or score.  They call that a sacrifice and the reward for the player is that it doesn’t count against them in their batting average.  It’s been a legitimate play in baseball for over a hundred years.

Many of baseball’s greatest players made other sacrifices as well.  Especially during World War II, many of them enlisted in the military and spent time overseas serving our country.  Some died, some were injured, but many came back and resumed their careers.  Here’s some of the greatest players and how they served:

  • Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees“Joltin’ Joe” played Major League Baseball from 1936 to 1951 and is known as one of the most complete players in baseball; in other words, he had all the skills you would want a player to have.  But when the war came, DiMaggio willingly left baseball from 1943 – 1945 to serve US Air Force.  Upon his discharge, he resumed with the Yankees and had a stellar career.
  • Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians – Feller, a pitcher, played in the Major Leagues from 1936-1956.  The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and brought America into World War II.  On December 8, Bob Feller left baseball to enlist in the US Navy and gave up four years in baseball to serve.  As skilled and dominant a player he was, many wonder how much more Feller could have accomplished if he had stayed in baseball those four years.
  • Warren Spahn, Boston Braves – Spahn was also a pitcher and is the winning-est left-hander in history.  He played from 1942 to 1965, including the 1948 World Series where the Braves battle cry was “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain“.  During WWII, he served in the US Army, at one point suffering injury from shrapnel and received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. When the ware ended, Spahn went back to Braves (and eventually other teams) and continued to dominate batters, even winning the Cy Young award for the top pitcher.
  • Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox – Williams was arguably the greatest hitter in baseball and played from 1939-1960, leaving for a while to join the US Navy and then the Marines, serving from 1942-1946, and recalled in 1952.  Like Bob Feller, many wonder what more Williams could have accomplished had he stayed in baseball during that time.

These men saw something greater than themselves and greater than baseball and chose to serve when it was necessary.  Certainly there were those who thought they should have stayed in, that they were more valuable in baseball.  But they didn’t see it that way.

Sacrifice to Serve

Flag - many sacrifice all for our countryOver the years, many men and women have felt the same way.  My nephew Cody is currently serving overseas.  I have many friends who also have served or are serving.  They all know there is something greater than themselves, greater than anything they might accomplish during this time.  They are giving up careers, family, and much more to serve this country.  In some cases, they are sacrificing all of this for the benefit of people in other countries.  While some may question that, they do not.  They serve, for a greater good.

Like in baseball, they sacrifice themselves in order to help others move ahead.

Thank you to all Veterans for the service and sacrifice you have made.

Action Plan

  • Make it a point to say “Thank you for your service” to any Veterans you encounter day and every day.

Return From Camp

Raven_Knob_signAs I mentioned in the last post, I recently escorted 19 Boy Scouts to summer camp at Raven Knob Scout Reservation near Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  Being as there is generally not a lot for adults to do there, I was able to spend a lot of time observing, reflecting, and planning.  This is our second straight year at this camp and we plan to return next year as well, primarily because this particular camp is so well run.  The amazing part of it is that the program is almost entirely run by Boy Scouts, not adults.  And by almost entirely, I mean that the adults involved are in supporting roles and primarily managerial roles.  The Program Director on down are Scouts running the show!

Now, summer camps by necessity are pretty well-structured and offer lots of programs.  A Boy Scout camp is no different, offering opportunities for the boys to work towards rank advancement or earning merit badges.  All that structure requires a lot of staff members to make it go, providing administration, program, food service, and other elements.  When you have a program that is well-organized and runs smoothly with that many factors and personnel involved, and it is run by boys; well, that deserves a little looking at to find out why.  So, I did.

The Raven Knob Difference

The Camp Director is Keith Bobbitt and my understanding is that his philosophy and approach is what drives the success of this camp.  Keith is what we call a Professional Scouter, an adult who gets paid to do this.  In talking with Keith both last year and this year, I am struck by the awesome leadership he exhibits with the summer camp program.  Keith has developed a vision and core values that are the cornerstone of the program.  Applicants to work summer camp are carefully reviewed and selected.  All staff members are required to attend ongoing training in how the camp runs, their roles, and their leadership.  As camp goes on, Keith and his team identify staff members who exhibit extraordinary competence and leadership.  Those candidates are then provided with additional training and guidance, moved to more challenging roles, and return the next year to serve in higher capacity.

As I mentioned, even the Program Director is a Scout.  He is responsible to lead all the section directors (also mostly all Scouts) and lead daily meetings with adult leaders from all the troops that attend to keep them informed.  If you have an issue during camp, you will speak to Scout to get it resolved.  When I asked Keith Bobbitt about the Program Director role and how he can confidently fill it with a Scout, he told me that the person for the that position has actually been trained over a few years to fill it.  He even confidently boasted to me that when the current Program Director ages out of Scouting or moves on, he has 3-4 others already prepared to take that role on and maintain the consistency in the effectiveness of the camp.

Vision, Empowerment, and a Commitment to Excellence

A few take-aways for me stood out from observing the week, not all of it new but certainly reinforced:

  1. Vision helps everyone perform better.  What’s amazing about Camp Raven Knob is not just that it is run by boys — other Boy Scout camps do that as well — but rather that it is run so smoothly and efficiently by boys.  They were always courteous and helpful.  And while those two words are part of the Scout Law and you would expect them to be that way at every camp; the reality is that not all of them go the extra mile with it like they do at Raven Knob.  I believe it is because the vision of what they want the camp to be is consistently communicated to the staff.  Once they understand the vision, it sets an expectation, which then makes it easier for the staff to behave in a manner consistent with that vision.
  2. Empowerment lets each person contribute and spreads the load.  When you provide the vision, tell them to go make it happen, and get out of their way then most everyone will rise to the occasion and perform based on the vision.  By empowering the Program Director to run things, make decisions, and make changes as necessary, Keith not only allows that Scout to truly contribute to the success of the camp, he is making his own load lighter as well.  When the Program Director allows his section directors to do their jobs and make decisions, he also is developing people and lightening his own load.  I daresay that if the Program Director kept all the decision making to himself, he would go crazy around week 2 or 3.
  3. Boys teach me more than I ever teach them.  They had challenges of bad weather at points, being in a totally unfamiliar environment, hustling around from session to session all day, and yet took the time to thoroughly enjoy themselves and get to know each other better.  I believe our troop firmed up their relationships that week through the shared experiences and the resulting “inside jokes” from that.  Litigious spiders, “are we there yet? Yes, get out!”, playing SetBack, and “Hey, Hi!” will all become cultural components of our troop.  And it reminded me of things I often forget in “the real world”.

A Summer of Fears

It’s a time of apprehensive moments for the entrepreneur.  Some many things happen during the summer that can cause the small businessman a lot of stress.  As people vacation, they may be buying less of what you have to offer; unless of course your business revolves around tourism.  You yourself may be contemplating time off.  Holidays like July 4th in the U.S. almost force you to take time off.  The stress from all of this for the entrepreneur is that so much of ourselves is wrapped up in our business that we hate to leave it for even one minute.  Taking a whole day off is almost unheard of.  And taking off a week?  Forget it!

On a side note, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am an entrepreneur.  I didn’t see it that way for a while, I think mostly because I don’t sell products as much as I do services.  The more I looked at it, however, the more I realized that I am still very much so in the entrepreneurial spirit.  So, like others, I stress during this time of year.

Off to Camp

Summer Camp Sign PostAs I am preparing for the July 4th holiday, I am also preparing to leave this Saturday to take 19 Boy Scouts to Summer Camp at Camp Raven Knob in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  Great camp!  So extremely well run that after visiting last year we immediately voted to go again this year.  As a leader within the troop, I must go to make sure there is appropriate adult supervision.  Who’s going to supervise me, I don’t know.  : )

This decision to go did not come easy.  I worry that I should be working, generating income, developing new programs; all kinds of things that keep my business going.  Lost productivity time.  The expense of making the trip, especially critical in the face of unforeseen expenses in other areas this year.  I toyed briefly with bowing out.

In the end, I decided to go.  I don’t know if my reasoning will help you in your decisions or not, but here’s what I came up with.  The value of what can come out of this camp for the boys and the influence I can have adding to that value in my opinion far outweigh potential losses.  These opportunities are rare, particularly with my own children growing older.  I also had my integrity to think of, both my integrity with others and with myself.  I had made a commitment that others were counting on.  It’s important, again both for myself and for what I teach the Scouts, to fulfill my commitment no matter the cost.  If you don’t have trust, you have nothing.  Even more so, I needed to trust myself.  As an entrepreneur I decided that I simply needed to trust in my ability to produce, trust in what I have to offer, and in my resolve to survive and even thrive no matter what.  It won’t be easy and it will mean a lot of hard work when I return, but I was planning to work hard and smart anyway.

So, breathe!  Take a few moments and re-charge!  Trust yourself and your abilities!  Enjoy the moment!

P.S.  I will confess that there is a Scoutmaster’s Hut there with wi-fi so I won’t be completely disconnected and I am going to take some time doing some necessary planning and working on my book; so the week won’t be a complete loss.

What about you?  What fears are you facing this summer?