Monday, January 26, 2009

Welcome to Leadership

It was the big weekend soccer game. The tension hung in the air like a warm fleece blanket, as welcomed as one on a stifling summer day. The minivan was loaded, the mini-players ready to run, kick, jump, and slide. It would be a big day, one to remember regardless of the outcome. Dad had always said it was not winning that mattered, it was how you played the game.

Dad always said that….but today he didn’t really show it. He screamed profanities from the side lines, he yelled at the referees, he shook his head in disappointment so many times that the little guy had lost count.

Years would pass, Timmy was now coaching soccer and the method he tended to employ was the yell, bicker, scream technique. He had been honed by the example of his father and now this was how he chose to lead.

I have heard it said that leaders are born and not made. Hogwash I say. Leadership is not completely genetic and the role models in our lives and the systems they put in place have much more to do with our capabilities as leaders than some X or Y chromosome floating about.

As important as leadership is, there is very little in the way of productive leadership formation in the community for the young adults entering that community as contributing members. How many times have we looked at a political race and said, “Geesh, I don’t like any of the choices.” Yet, what do we do collectively as a community to raise the next set of leaders for our local HOA to the Presidency? If we, as a society do not take an interest in raising our leaders, who will?

I have recently found myself in several leadership type roles within Masonry. I have had the opportunity to help grow education, to help grow a lodge, to help progress Masonry. I love Masonry and want to serve it, but to help lead it, to guide it?

I have been filled with doubt lately as more responsibility is placed upon my lap. I wonder if I will make good and right decisions that will be lasting and do the most possible good. I wonder if not only will I render my decisions effectively, will I deliver the information properly so that it is well received and well executed. I wonder why me?
I have laid awake at night and wondered if the Craft has done itself a disservice by putting so much trust in me.

It hit me the other day like a ton bricks, my responsibility to the Craft, and then a kind Brother helped me to understand.

First, when you sit in the East and look out upon a group of men that you respect, that you look to as friends, Brothers, and mentors; as they look back to you as a leader, they never loose sight of the fact you are their Brother. From the time you are initiated into the Craft, this body of men is building you as a leader. They sculpt you, hone you, and chip away at you. They give gentle guidance, firm redirection, and use persuasion to explain to you. You are not in the East alone, you do not sit by yourself, you sit surrounded by men who continue to guide you and grow you. The position is one of humility, first your friends instruct you, and then let you use that instruction in the form of leadership.

In a world where children are raised by the XBOX and the idiot soccer Dad is the example, Masonry teaches a kind humility and social confidence. It builds leaders out of good men, it seeks to improve the man, and the man then seeks to improve his community.

It is no accident that so many of the world’s great leaders were Masons. Masonry naturally refines good men, so that they can one day be leaders in their own lives, and sometimes, in the lives of their community.

Second. I shared my fears and doubts with a friend of mine in the Craft. He said, “So, sometimes you doubt yourself? Sometimes you don’t get any sleep while you worry? Sometimes you have to give a lot of thought to your decisions?” He paused, “Welcome to leadership.” He went onto explain that the man who believes himself perfect for the role and has little doubt in his abilities is likely arrogant to the point of failure. That the best leaders care and care deeply…and this is not a fault.

In a world where we complain without a solution, where we find fault for its own sake, where our leadership training in life is to “knock them down a peg,” Freemasonry is quietly and consistently growing leaders of their own lives, confident men who care about their choices, who have the courage to fight through doubt and make a decision, even when it is difficult to do so. So you have doubts, so you wonder if you are making the right decisions, you care that deeply about yourself, others, and your world….welcome to leadership…welcome to Masonry.