Nov 16

Questionable ethics of being too outcome-focused: How I got American teenagers 2 REALLY like the Pledge

In the summer of 1982, through  BUNACAMP, I worked as a camp counselor at Camp Sebago on Lake Sebago in the beautiful state of Maine, Camp Sebago was a Salvation Army camp offering one week summer breaks for kids who probably wouldn't otherwise manage to get a vacation. Together with a fellow Brit, I was in charge of the cabin for the oldest boys - typically aged 13 - 15. From the horror stories I heard from other British students who had spent the same summer at 'posh' camps for relatively rich kids, I was very, very lucky to have had this experience! Over the two months of camp, the majority of boys and kids loved it, and I very much enjoyed the experience, as well as making lots of great American friends among the staff - sadly, due in part perhaps to the lack of our current speedy communications, most of whom I lost touch with long ago.

Among other things, in my time there, I learned how important size is for Americans when it comes to food! Staff snacks in the evening ... would never have been deemed a 'snack' in Britain! I've never seen pizzas soooo big! And, as for the 'tubs' of ice cream ... forget 'tubs' ... think 'buckets'!

So, on with this particular (very true) tale .... One group of boys in our 'big boy' cabin thought they were way too cool and way too old for some of the daily activities - and, of course, this is where my current tale truly begins!

Now, being a Sally Army camp, daily life was quite regimented. After breakfast every day, all staff and kids had to gather ceremoniously around the flag pole for the ritual raising of the American flag and the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance. We Brits, while having to be there, were excused said Pledge for obvious reasons, I guess. On one level, I was disappointed as i loved to listen to that Pledge - the essence of being American, the focus on liberty and justice for all very much appealed to my youthful mind. it is important to remember that for what follows ....!

That particular cabin of overly 'cool' boys really didn't want to be uncool and have to say the Pledge, and I'm sure in part, they were inspired by the fact that we Brits didn't have to open our mouths! However, when the cabin of oldest boys is so openly rebellious... something had to be done! My colleague and I were called into the Camp Director's office and told, in no uncertain terms, to 'do something' about our boys!

So, we gathered our boys together in the cabin and started to talk with them about the failed Pledges. One of their retorts was along the lines of ... 'but you don't do it'. And, there were definitely some 'F*** the pledge' responses too! At this point, as it turns out, I hit on what turned out to be a moment of rare inspiration ... certainly if we are 'outcome focused'! I explained to the boys that we didn't have to say their 'stupid pledge' as we were British, we had a Queen, thousands of years more rich history then they had ...we didn't need to promise anything to a stupid flag etc etc ...

Anyway ... next day, our boys didn't say the Pledge. They shouted it! They slapped their hands very firmly on their proud American chests and shouted out the pledge very vehemently. Had there been such a thing as a smart phone in 1982, I would definitely have taken a video! The Camp Director was so surprised and indeed pleased at this exceptionally positive outcome that he called us back into his office and praised us for the result, and of course asked us what we had said. At this point, we gave a very British low-key response .. 'Oh, we had a word with them, sir'.

And, i guess, that is one way a Brit can get an American teenager to really feel American!! It probably also goes to show that .. there are surely ethical limitations to being too outcome-focused!

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Sep 16

The Leadership Challenge Post-Brexit: to keep 'out there out' or 'in'?


How do we proceed? What approach will work best?


It's a challenge-rich time in need of inspiring leaders 

Following the UK - well, largely English - decision to leave the European Union, it's a bit of an understatement to note that there are many leadership challenges ahead.

If we take the long-term view that things will get better with time and it's all going to work out in the end .. then it might be useful to remember what the ever-interesting Lolly Daskal (@LollyDaskal) tweets ..

    Sometimes you have to suffer through the worst to learn how to       make it through to the best 

Or ... as Elaine Perry tweets in the words of the irreplaceable Frank Sinatra ..

     The best revenge is massive success.     @elaine_perry

Here's hoping for truly massive success!  And -bearing in mind the new-ish UK Prime Minister was actually in the so-called Remain camp .. in the words of Robert Louis Stevenson as tweeted by Roy Bennett (@inspiringthinkn) ..

    Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others.

And,  i would argue that inspiration is what is needed.  Whatever fears our UK post-Brexit leaders may have, they most definitely need to keep them quiet and inspire the country, and indeed spread that inspiration way beyond the UK.   At this point in time, though, there seems to be little idea of what ideas such inspiration will spread.  Ideas are the bedrock of inspiration.   As JFK said ...

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on (As tweeted by Nathan Floyd @411onthisstuff).

Or as tweeted by Claudio Toyama (@ClaudioGT) in the words of  Norman Vincent Peale:

    Change your thoughts and you change your world


Where leaders and their inspiration reside ...

The Inspirational Challenge 

If we accept that leadership needs to inspire and leaders need to enthuse us with their ideas .. there is a  inherent challenge.   For Brexited Britain to be successful we will need .. well, the world!  Having shut the door - or at least just left it a tiny bit ajar - on the European market .. there are all those other countries 'out there'. Britain is good at 'out there' or 'over there' kind of language as of course we are a small island.  Regardless of how much you view a desire to 'keep out there out' as a foundation stone of Brexit success, the fact that the EU referendum eased the door a bit more .. closed .. is a huge challenge.  Hopefully leadership can indeed convince 'out there' not to stay 'out there' but .. to come ...  'in here'.  And ... surely you can see the inherent irony of that inspirational challenge!?

I feel the irony for higher education - we like and, yes, need 'out there' to come in here and share a globally focused learning journey. We simply can't afford - on so many levels - to shut ourselves off from the richness that is out there in this amazing world.  A new BA Education Studies (Primary) degree at my university, the Open Univesity, has gone to great lengths to ensure a focus on global education issues particularly at the coming Level 3 stage in the new qualification.   So .. do our leadership possess the skills to spread the idea inspiringly that we are in fact open to the world?


The world is fast-paced. Can leadership inspire forward thinking .. or are we stuck in past red phone boxes?



So, the challenge is essentially how to square what unquestionably inspired many to vote leave - a desire to keep 'out there out' - with the forward-looking need to enthuse 'out there to keep coming in here'.  While remote working and the worldwide web might, in theory, enable us to do business 'out there' without ever having to either gon'out there' or have 'out there come in' .. let's face it .. that's not really going to work is it!?

Surely collaborative working has to be at the heart of 21st century business with global interests 'out there'.  Indeed Gary Hensel (@garyhensel) on Twitter quotes Jessy Lyn Stoner:

     When you collaborate, you find creative win-win solution

.. and surely collaboration has to merge 'out there' and 'in here'


Raise the Bridge! There's a journey ahead!


The Journey Ahead - Inspiring Leadership Needed! 

It is worth noting as tweeted by Shawn Upchurch (@ShawnUpchurch)

  Leadership is an ever-evolving position. (Mike Krzyzewski)

I suspect fast-paced leadership evolution is required in post-Brexit world!

As Nathan Floyd (@411onthisstuff) points out on Twitter:

   We discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop conforming to our own and other people's models. 

Nin-conformist leadership of that ilk might be itself a significant challenge for any political leader - and doubly so in post-Brexit world! Surely, over-conforming leadership though runs in conflict with the need to inspire others with those all-important ideas that will live on.  But to soften the political blow of not conforming  .. as Dr Aleesha Dhillon (@wellness_igp_uk) notes on Twitter:

    The next time you feel someone is negative towards you, remember it's not a reflection on you 

Finally, as Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary) tweets:

   Leaders don't force others to follow. They invite others on a journey.   (Charles Layer)

The post-Brexit journey is inherently challenging   Here, I've drawn attention to what I'll call the 'out there' - 'in here' conundrum   Collaboration on any level requires a bit of both   Globally relevant business requires a bit of both   The journey ahead requires a bit if both   We need informed and thoughtful inspiration to take us along that Jouney    Or .. we just stay on our island, don't go anywhere and don't let any 'out there' ..'in here' ...



(All Twitter content cited here comes from just some of my excellent Twitter followers   Enjoy more of them by following them on Twitter)


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