My parents were big picture people. I would classify their leadership style as transformation in focus. They wanted to show us the way to become outstanding through our consistent efforts and God’s graces. They wanted us to be involved in activities. Many of them were low cost or no-cost. There is always a way to be involved without it costing a fortune. One thing they stressed was that “we don’t quit”. If we joined a team, or the scouts, or an activity we had to stick with it for the season or the school year or whatever. That was essential for building our work ethic. They were not about to let us quit because “it wasn’t fun” or “the coach didn’t like us” or “we weren’t getting our fair share of playing time”. They said–you want more playing time? work harder. Coach not being nice? deal with it and do what you can to fix it. Doing worse at something than the rest of the group or team? Practice and do your best. Learn…
They knew that being engaged and involved with activities was good for us (within reason). A wise thing they did was they insisted we do at least one activity a year in an area that we WEREN’T great at…something that would be a struggle and at best we might be just ok at. They thought (correctly) that would help us become more compassionate and humble. It is tempting to just be involved with activities you excel at. But trying other areas gives you balance. It lets you know what it is like to struggle mightily with minuscule results. It let’s you know that you aren’t necessarily the greatest thing since sliced bread. That is a good thing. It let’s you know the world isn’t going to worship the ground you walk on…..and it gives you a sense of humor about yourself.
When I went to camp the campers were required to participate in all the activities each day: swim lessons (my fave—excellent swimmer); craft barn (making popsicle stick houses and lanyards out of vinyl strips); archery range; canoeing; and rifle range (probably BB guns). After the first day I went to the camp director and tried to negotiate. I wanted OUT of craft barn. I was TERRIBLE at lanyards—they looked dreadful–lumpy, icky….I also wanted out of the rifle range. I tried to convince him I needed extra swim lessons instead. Unfortunately, my case held no water—as I had tested into senior lifesaving class…He laughed at me and said perhaps I would like 2 craft barns and zero swimming. I ran back to the craft barn and FAST!!!
Now, I’d love to be able to tell you I had a break-through at camp and became an avid lanyard maker. (Nope)… Or that I became the next Annie Oakley. I did not. As a matter of fact, I used the same target every day all week. I never hit it once….It makes me laugh until this day to think about it….. My canoeing skills—well that is a story for another post.
My archery skills—well, I was a tiny thing…I was 4’9″ at the time and weighed less than 60 pounds soaking wet. But if I could pull the arrow back firmly enough and release it correctly, I did hit THAT target every time.
Why do I tell you all this? Over the years I have been involved with many different activities. Some I did well, some I did horribly. Guess what? I got just as much joy out of it either way. as a matter of fact, if I leap into some new activity and really horse it up—-it gives me a great laugh. It let’s me know; I’m still here, good at some things—and laughably bad at others. I am glad my folks insisted we do that. It helped us become people who can laugh at ourselves.