Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Will Do My Best

I was painfully aware as a young scout that most of the other scouts in my troop had far more physical and athletic prowess than me. It seemed to me that almost all of the other scouts were just better at pretty much everything we did in scouts.

From my current vantage point I can see that my perspective at that age was grossly skewed. The vast majority of young people feel inferior to their peers in many ways. Each assumes that his feelings of loneliness and inferiority are somewhat unique, when in fact they are the rule rather than the exception.

Scouts promise in the Scout Oath to do their best to fulfill the points outlined in the oath.

My youngest son once remarked to me that his older brothers were all better at scouting than him. I laughed because I knew what his brothers were like at the same age. He was comparing himself at age 11 to boys that had earned the Eagle Scout rank and had spent summers working on Boy Scout camp staff, but who at age 11 were much like him.

I also explained to my son a simple principle that took me a long time to comprehend. When he promised to do his best, it was HIS best he was promising to do, not someone else's best.

We are each blessed with a rather unique set of strengths and weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. We are weak and lazy when we excuse ourselves from trying to do things at which we know others to be better.

Besides, in doing the things at which we aren't proficient, we increase our ability to do them.

As a young scout I knew the square knot pretty well, but not many other knots. Lashings mystified me completely. At age 17 I spent the summer teaching the Pioneering merit badge at scout camp. By the end of the summer I had become quite expert at a variety of knots, lashings, and rope splices. These skills remain strong with me to this day.

Interestingly, when Delose Conner hired me to work on camp staff all those years ago, he didn't ask me how good I was at pioneering skills. Instead he gave me the resources I needed to be successful and he expected me to step up to the challenge. He expected me to do my best. He knew that as I did so, my best would become better. He knew that by the end of the summer my best would be better than my best at the beginning of the summer.

When scouts stand and promise to do their best, they are in essence promising to become better.

On my honor, I will do my best ....

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