Monday, May 22, 2006

Scouting Leads to Success

Scouting and Success in the Business World.

Along the lines of the popular book that proclaimed that everything one needed to learn for a successful life could be learned in Kindergarten, it occurred to me a while back that everything needed for success in business is taught in Scouting. Whether you’re a Scout from way back or one who missed out on what Scouting offers, allow me to suggest two elements of Scouting in particular can be put to work by any and all of us to move the success needle forward in today’s competitive business world.

There are two things that every new Scout learns as part of their indoctrination into the Boy Scouts of America.

The Scout Law which states that a Scout is “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

The Scout Promise in which Scouts proclaim that “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

Powerful words made ever more powerful by repetition in that every weekly meeting opens with all Scouts present reciting aloud and in unison both the Scout Law and the Scout Promise. Such learned and then oft repeated positive affirmations serve to ingrain the underlying philosophy securely in one’s mind in a way that remains long after the Scouting years have faded away. What’s more, the power of those words as an example of what’s needed for success in the business world is hard to argue against.

Imagine how these words might play out in a typical business interaction that has a clear success-fail outcome. Given the choice between hiring two technically equal job candidates, what business person would ignore the candidate that was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent to choose the one that wasn’t? Could the qualities inherent in the Scout Law be the tie-breaker that lands that person the new job?

Similarly, while I’ve often heard employees say they want to move up to the next level title or position on their career ladder, the ones who actively demonstrate the qualities inherent in the Scout Law usually don’t need to ask about promotions. The combination of Scout Law attributes along with proven technical competence in one’s chosen field will nearly guarantee that managers in an organization are noticing and actively planning to groom such an individual for advancement. Likewise, a person with solid, sometimes even brilliant technical competence will struggle to find the advancement path if they regularly demonstrate the opposite of the Scout Law attributes. Why would any business want to promote a person that can’t be trusted, lacks loyalty, is rarely helpful or friendly, or courteous, or kind? The answer seems pretty obvious when put in that context doesn’t it?

The Scout Law professes the attributes that will deliver success in Scouting as readily as in business. The Scout Promise, on the other hand, prescribes a way of living the Scout Law that while perhaps tailored more precisely for the Scouting experience is still just as valid in providing a method for pursuing success in the business world. Again, assuming technical competence in one’s chosen field, how could success be denied to one who lives in honor and resolves to do their best and to do their duty? A person who is physically in shape, mentally awake, morally straight, and actively looking for ways to help other people at all times will surely find success in business.

While the power inherent in the words of the both the Scout Law and the Scout promise can not be denied, it’s not just the words which provide this prescription for success. The constant repetition aloud of both the Scout Law and the Scout Promise at the start of Scouting events is a powerful affirmation process that ingrains the strength of the words in the Scouts.

Imagine how business meetings might change if every session started with the attendees standing and proclaiming that they are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Followed by a declaration that on their honor they will each do their best to do their duty to help other people at all times and to keep themselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. My bet is that such a practice would result in markedly different meeting results!

Of course, in today’s business world, you couldn’t even attempt to require such a act as it would be immediately seen as stepping on the attendees civil liberties or worse but it is fun to imagine what might happen in business if everyone from across the organization came to work each day determined to live by both the Scout Law and the Scout promise. The result would likely be success in far more instances than without such a powerful attitude permeating the day to day business world. The good news is that affirming the Scout Law and the Scout Promise on a regular basis will make a positive impact on any practitioner’s day to day life. If enough of us take on the challenge of such affirmations, we can improve our chances of personal success while advancing the success of our business and of those around us. If you’re a Scout from way back, dust off the memories and lessons learned. If you never had the chance to be a part of Scouting, take the challenge of affirming the power of the words and see if your success in business doesn’t tick upward.


PS A special note of thanks to my Mom and Dad who in addition to having eight children, found the time to make sure Scouting was an option I could enjoy with their full and active support.