Digging a Foxhole with a Plastic Spoon and a Coffee Can

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It’s amazing, really.   Every single summit and camp that I have had the pleasure of attending has left me almost at a loss for words when attempting to describe it.  Each experience has brought a different set of people into my life, and each has taught me more about myself and more about being a better person and leader.  Every single time I walk away with almost a sadness, not wanting to leave the people that you spend just a few days bonding with.  That is a powerful feeling, and it is a testament to the quality of the people that are leaders of Eagle Nation.

The Eagle Leader Academy in Oswego was no different.  It was a great pleasure to welcome North-East leaders to our home town, and even with our normal Oswego weather always throwing a wrench in the gears, it was an amazing weekend.  I attended my ELA 100 in Texas with another group of amazing leaders, so I did not meet many of the leaders until the Oswego camp, but I had immediate connections with every one of them.

I initially had some hesitation about what the ELA’s were teaching. I have a military mindset that will never completely go away, and learning about all this emotional “touchy feely” stuff wasn’t integrating smoothly in my head at times. Here is the realization I came to: This isn’t the military.

Many of the members of this team haven’t served in the military, or made the transition to civilian life,  but all of us have found ourselves having to lead a team of volunteers giving of their precious time.   This world is full of a vastly different type of people that we worked with in the military, you could use the words entitled, spoiled, unethical, untrustworthy, and many others to describe a few of the individuals we work with now.  Many have a wonderful work ethic and strive to do great things, they have just been brought up to respond to a different type of motivation.  Some of our leadership team may have never enjoyed the opportunity to be a leader, but still had the courage to step out of their comfort zone. And we must lead them.

The tools we use to lead them in turn must be altered, or in many cases thrown in the trash can. Digging a foxhole with a plastic spoon and a coffee can just won’t work any longer. What I have learned in ELA about solidifying the connection, the trust, the loyalty using a completely different set of tools has definitely made me a better leader, both in my career and as a Chapter Captain. The concepts we learned to apply to ourselves in level 100, and then to others in level 200 are critical to being a leader in today’s society. In level 300 we are going to learn how to apply what we have learned and internalized to our community, to make us better leaders where we work and in our communities! Holy crap, I get it! And it is awesome!

When the concept of Team RWB changing America was first discussed I was all in, but I didn’t see the clear path to get there. When we went to the Summit in Philly and we all wrote down (memory may not have the words precise here) what we were most excited about, being part of the future with Team RWB. My answer was to be a part of watching Team RWB take over the country. I completely believe that it is possible, and that our ethos and leadership is exactly what our country needs. All of us at the chapter level can sometimes be expert arm chair quarterbacks about where National is leading us, I have been guilty of that myself. But I have a huge appreciation for this program they have put together to make us, and the organization a true force in Americas future.

We don’t often think of what the people that are leading this organization have given up to be leaders of a non-profit organization, but every one of them could tell you that they aren’t doing it for the money. They are doing it because they truly believe in Team RWB, and they believe in us. From spending countless hours coming up with the right training, to working on better technology solutions, to planning and executing the ELA’s. All this on top of all the daily administrative functions, like making sure your expenses get reimbursed quickly, managing the business, and convincing other companies to believe in us too. So, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you to our National Leadership Team for the continuous hard work you have put into helping make Team RWB what it is, for believing in us, and more importantly, investing in us.