Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Mr. Mazzuca,

Mr. Robert Mazzuca
Chief Scout Executive
Boy Scouts of America
1325 Walnut Hills Lane
Irving, TX 75015-2079

Dear Mr. Mazzuca,

My purpose in life is to help individuals, groups and organizations to learn, to live and to promote “seize the day” which can reduce suffering and enhance life. Scouting has been an incredible foundation for me discovering my purpose. Scouting runs deep in my family. My mother grew up in Boy Scout camps as my grandfather was a professional scouter. My scoutmaster, Larry Lemser, Troop 516, Centerville, OH, was a scouter’s scout, part of my inspiration for working to achieve Eagle. I earned the rank of Eagle back in 1969. My mother had my Eagle badge and God and Country badge framed in a shadowbox. Until recently, it hung on my office wall. It is now missing.

My Eagle Scout badge is missing because of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy of "not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.” If it makes any difference, I’m straight. While my accomplishment to achieve Eagle has nothing to do with BSA policy, the Eagle rank does represent values I believe in and found in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The BSA policy is contrary, hypocritical and non-affirming to the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Stated on the BSA website concerning the building of character, “Few will argue with the importance of teaching values...such as fairness, courage, honor and respect for others.” Character is revealed at times of adversity.

Are the BSA doing its best? Are the BSA doing its duty to God (I’m thinking of the two greatest commandments in Christianity) and our country? Other God fearing and patriotic organizations such as the Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and even the U.S. Armed Forces, have put an end to such discrimination.

I was told by my scoutmaster at my Eagle Court of Honor, “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!” I can no longer claim to be an Eagle Scout nor promote the Boy Scouts of America as a primary start to learning leadership. I hope you and the others who create policy find the wisdom and courage to walk-the-talk of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. It’s okay to be straight, but it’s not okay to be narrow.

Carrpe Diem!

David Carr

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Can a NASCAR Pit Crew Teach Us about Team and Leadership?

I am not a follower of NASCAR, but after working with a group at the Michael Waltrip Racing Center, Cornelius, NC, recently, I am more likely to watch a NASCAR race just to see the pit crews in action. Lots of team and leadership lessons to learn and re-learn!
These pit crews of six members are athletes and they train like athletes! Michael Waltrip Racing has an excellent workout facility with a full time trainer. I’d pay to be a member! Pit crew members workout in this facility five days a week. They simulate race-day pit crew routines daily. Practices are video recorded and studied to see what was done right as well as what could be improved. 
Race day, the pit crew members are dressed in fire-proof suits with helmets that can cause them to lose up to 8 pounds of weight race day! Talk about having to focus under incredibly uncomfortable conditions for at least 6 hours is a huge feat.
Each pit crew member has a specific role of jackman, front tire changer, rear tire changer, gas man, front tire carrier and rear tire carrier. The jackman  has to lift a 3400 pound car with driver on each side of the car at a strategic location two times in a pit stop to change up to four 60 pound tires. The gasman has to lift two 90 pound gas cans. All this has to be done in 12.5 seconds or less if possible! They may need to do this process every 15 minutes for four hours. Add to this that these people get up at 3 AM on race day to catch a plane to fly to the race track and do not return home until 11 PM or later that night! 
Little things make a difference for the pit crew. For example, lug nuts are glued onto wheels about three hours before a race. At three hours the glue will be set just right. If there is rain delay, the lug nuts need to be removed and re-glued. 
To be successful at helping to win a race requires knowing your role as well as each member’s role. One of the pit crew members shared he was not good at handling the jackman position. He acknowledged his weakness and focused on his strength as as the front tire changer. (FYI - when not working out or practicing with the pit crew, he is in the marketing department of MWR!) Precision and accuracy come from practice, practice, practice. Endurance and perseverance are essential especially when things go badly. I noticed in the workout facility on the white board the #1 item, “The mind is primary.” There are incredible mind games and challenges at work on this team. Finally, encouragement is like secret sauce! It does make a difference!
How do you and your team measure up to the required behaviors of being on a NASCAR pit crew? What do you and your team need to work on to win your race?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

We Have A Policy For That

(CNN) -- The south Florida lifeguard (Tomas Lopez) fired for leaving his post so he could save a swimmer outside his coverage zone said Thursday he has been offered his job back. (More at http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/05/us/florida-lifeguard-fired/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1)

What was the Ellis Management Company (Lopez's employer) thinking?
The problem is, The Ellis Management Company was not thinking because it has a policy in place so it does not have to think. Here is the dilemma we have created for ourselves. The more zones, rules, policies and incentives we put in place and emphasize, the less we use common sense, wisdom and critical thinking.
“There are liability issues when you go out of your zone.” Ellis Management Company
What drives us to create zones, rules, policies and incentives is fear. We fear people will not do the greatest good, such as not shooting off fireworks during drought conditions so we create a policy. We fear people will not follow a universal standard such as put litter in it’s place, we create a law for littering. We fear people will not live the Golden Rule, so we enact many other written rules.
The more zones, rules, policies and incentives we create, the more fear we generate and the more we suppress critical thinking. It’s a double edge sword. Our fears are based on:
  • what we believe we deserve - scarcity mentality
  • we are not getting our fair share
  • what we think we need to protect
  • ugly stories we imagine including “phantom rules” of injustice
  • something we believe will be taken from us
  • we will not be respected or accepted
  • promises, pledges and commitments that won’t be kept or honored
  • we are not worthy 
  • trust issues
  • our shame, our pain
  • we are not lovable or deserved to be loved
As a result, we create moral confusion. Fortunately, for the man whose life was saved by Lopez this past Tuesday, there was no moral confusion. Jeff Ellis, Ellis Management who had hired Lopez said, "I know that he has tried to do the right thing." 
Lopez didn’t try to do the right thing, Lopez DID the right thing. As Yoda said to young Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, “Try not. Do, or do not do. There is no try.” For Lopez and the life he saved, moral courage trumped policy. A “hard right was taken at an easy wrong!” (St Paul’s School for Boys, Baltimore, MD, prayer.)
Let’s use the Tomas Lopez/Ellis Management Company issue as a starting place for a conversation with ourselves.
Ask yourself, “Do I live life-affirming principles? What is my evidence?” Principles count for little if they are not practiced. Standing up for principles is the defining feature of moral courage. 

Is my love for others great enough to help me overcome my fear? Will love give me moral courage?