Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lessons Learned. Again.

One of our sons is part of the Civil Air Patrol, an organization for young people affiliated with the Air Force. They are trained in leadership, teamwork, and life skills. We are pleased with the caliber of training they receive each week, and the growth we see in our son.

This week, they were divided into four groups, about five in each group, and given a puzzle. Three of the groups had a 100 piece 3-D puzzle, the other group a 1,000 piece puzzle. The instructions were to complete all the puzzles in the time given, 30 minutes. Each group was assigned a leader. Go.

The group our son was in worked together, laughed and completed their puzzle ahead of the allotted time. They sat back, watched the other groups, and wondered what great prize they were going to receive for winning, proud of their efforts to work together and complete the task, quickly and efficiently.

Time is up. The Commander asked, "What were my instructions?"

"To complete the puzzle."

"No, to complete all the puzzles."

Realization dawned. Oh, no. They missed the point. The group, proud of being first, suddenly became last, the one yelled at for not paying attention to detail and turning it into a competition rather than the unit working together as a whole. Wow. An impressive lesson for these young people. The point is not the competition. Leadership. They had worked well within their team, but those same skills should have been extended to the other teams once their task was accomplished.

This is a challenging lesson. We are a competitive people. (At least I am. More competitive than I'd like to admit). We watch others succeed, have more, be more, do more. We wonder why we can't succeed like that. It is hard to understand that the best way to succeed is to help others succeed.

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