The Trail to Eagle is one of many paths out there. Another essential trail runs beside it, which we follow by living out the Scout Oath and Law. Imagine what our nation could be like if everyone walked this path, even occasionally. We would all be better individuals and citizens, and our nation would thrive as a more ethical society.
Our country needs Eagle Scouts, but we also need Scouts of every rank who can set a positive example, regardless of race, creed, color, or background. This was never more evident to me than during my careers in the military and government.
Beyond these pledged ideals, there are other steps we can take to achieve success in life. Here are some Steps for success I have learned from years of leadership training:
Honesty is non-negotiable, lead with integrity. Character counts. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. There is no better time to demonstrate your values than when facing challenges. Integrity is the cornerstone of leadership. Be honest, trustworthy, and transparent in all your actions and interactions. Lead by example and uphold the Scout Oath and Law daily. Demonstrate strong moral and ethical principles and hold yourself accountable for your efforts. Build trust with your integrity and authenticity with your team, peers, and superiors.
Embrace diversity and inclusion while fostering teamwork and collaboration. Our world is diverse, and respecting and valuing differences is essential. Seek diverse perspectives and actively include people from all backgrounds in your team and decision-making processes. Create a supportive and inclusive team culture where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their best. Encourage open communication, active listening, and constructive feedback. Foster a collaborative environment where diverse perspectives are welcomed and valued, and team members can leverage their strengths to achieve common goals.
Be situationally aware. Stop. Look. Listen. The second mouse gets the cheese! Don’t sacrifice yourself to please others. Be aware that simply being placed in a leadership position does not automatically make you a leader. Ask people, “What do you think?” and listen. Remember that the toughest view is the one closest to you, influenced by people and events. Beware of complainers and critics, as they may sometimes have valid points.
Shape your destiny. Mark Twain once said, “Find a self and stick with it.” Lead by taking responsibility for your actions and inactions, including your mistakes. Inspire others to exceed minimum standards. Identify what needs to be done and take action. Mentor and nurture expertise through opportunities. Your actions today leave footprints that can either guide the way or snuff out potential. Your fingerprints shape the futures of those around you.
Know your people. and know yourself. Offer everyone a place at your table. You are as good as anyone else until you start thinking you are better than others. Represent your team well, and they will represent you nicely in return. Know and utilize the strengths and resources of your team, matching skills to the mission. Reflect on your assumptions and challenge them. Lift others instead of pushing them down. Teach others how to disagree without disrespect.
Be an innovator. People adapt best to what they know best. Find ways to work smarter, not harder. Caretakers maintain the status quo, while innovators and change-makers drive positive outcomes. Innovators are responsible for 99.9% of all positive change. Take calculated risks without being reckless. Understand that it’s easier to criticize than to come up with solutions.
Communicate constantly. Share information, not just your vision. Close the loop, both vertically and horizontally. An action is only complete once you coordinate with anyone affected by it or your inaction. The outcome of your actions affects your reputation. When you see someone atop a mountain, you know they didn’t fall there by accident!
Be objective. People have tribal tendencies; it’s in our DNA. Help tribes come together to form a unified nation. Act based on facts, not opinions. Beware of personal biases that may cloud your judgment. Set aside your agenda and prioritize the greater good. Be firm but fair in your decision-making. Ensure justice and provide appropriate rewards and recognition for hard work and achievements. Influential leaders do not play favorites or let personal biases influence their actions.
Continuously learn and grow. Leadership is a continuous journey, not a destination. Embrace lifelong learning and actively seek opportunities for personal and professional growth. Reflect on your successes and failures, using them as opportunities for improvement. Stay abreast of the latest knowledge and trends in your field. Solicit feedback from others and remain open to constructive criticism. Invest in your development and consistently strive to evolve as a leader.
Serve others selflessly. The Scout motto, “Do a Good Turn Daily,” reflects the spirit of service at the heart of scouting. As an Eagle Scout, continue to serve others selflessly in your community and beyond. Look for opportunities to make a positive impact.
In conclusion, becoming an Eagle Scout is not just about achieving a rank– it’s also about developing essential leadership qualities that can guide you throughout your life. By following the Steps for Success, which include:
- Lead with integrity
- Embrace diversity and inclusion while fostering teamwork and collaboration
- Be situationally aware
- Shape your destiny
- Know your people
- Be an innovator
- Communicate constantly
- Be objective
- Continuously learn and grow
- Serve others selflessly
You can become a successful leader who positively impacts your community and beyond. As an Eagle Scout, you have the potential to make a meaningful difference in the world by living the values of Scouting and being a role model for others.