Be prepared. That’s our motto and I generally take it pretty seriously. About this time 6 years ago, I was trying to prepare for my first Wood Badge experience in SR-769. Like you, I had heard good things from others who had taken the course before me. I read all the information sent by the course director, Gary Bryant, but was still not really sure what to expect. At that time, there was very little information on the internet about Wood Badge and we were still a few years away from having a website set up for each course. I was, however, pretty clear on the fact that this was a “leadership development” course based on the principles of Scouting. OK, in the absence of better information, I could work with that.
I had taken Buckskin as a Scout, taken organization theory classes, taken and taught leadership skills and experiential education classes in college, and even led 10 day wilderness leadership development experiences. I had attended leadership development seminars and read Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard, both of whom had contributed to the Wood Badge syllabus. I was feeling pretty good, but just in case, I made sure to complete the 20 questions I had been sent and pack everything on the packing list, plus a few extra items just in case. I was confident that I had done everything possible to get ready.
I had, however, so focused on the skills that I was going to learn, that I was totally unprepared for the new relationships that were in my future. I spent the first hours of the course meeting new people and listening to staff members deliver fantastic presentations, but feeling disappointed that I hadn’t been taught anything new yet. It was late on Day 1 when it started to occur to me that I had to open my mind to the fact that, at least for me, being part of developing the team WAS the lesson. Everything covered in the presentations was happening in real time in our team.
I was a day late, but on Day 2, I began to look at each person in new ways… what was important to them, what they wanted from the course, and how to work together. We developed amazing friendships and started to perform well as a team. Over the next few days, I also began to look at myself a bit differently. It took this transformation for me to be able to put together a meaningful ticket. It became easier to define a vision for myself once I got past the “learning” new skills and began to focus on “growing” as a person.
It seems so obvious in hindsight! I look back and laugh at myself, but as I have talked to other participants over the years since, I realize that my approach was not unique. I share this experience in hopes that you a) also get a good chuckle at my expense, and b) approach the course with an open mind and heart so you can relax and enjoy the journey. Spending some time really answering the 20 questions will help get you in the right frame of mind, but don’t stress over the ticket yet as we will spend quite a bit of time on Weekend One to refine your vision and talk about ticket items.
I look forward to getting know each of you!
Dave Anderson, Scribe