This evening my family and I were invited to attend an Eagle Scout Court of Honor. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Boy Scouts, an Eagle Court of Honor is the ceremony at which they bestow the rank of Eagle on a scout. The rank of Eagle is the highest rank achievable in the Boy Scouts and it is a huge honor to receive it. It takes years of work and preparation and the successful completion of a significant service project to accomplish. Only about 2% of the boys who ever join scouting earn the rank. So it was no small thing we went to observe this evening.
As happens whenever you have a ceremony of this caliber, many people come out and some are asked to speak. Some speak about a particular subject (leadership, determination, achievement, etc…) and some speak about the young man who has earned the rank and what he has accomplished.
I have been involved with scouting for close to 10 years now and have attended more than a dozen of these ceremonies, every once in a while one of the speakers speaks directly to me.
This happened this evening and I just had to share it.
This speaker is actually a friend of mine, he is a young man who started out in scouting at the tender age of 7 as a tiger cub scout and eventually went on to earn his Eagle. After college he decided that the scouts meant so much to him that he wanted to give back and became a paid scouter. His job is to share his love of scouting with boys and parents and help them have the opportunity to experience at least a part of what he loved so much.
My friend was asked to speak this evening on the topic of “The Meaning of Eagle” and I was completely blown away. Most of the time (in my experience) the meaning of eagle speech is about what the boy has accomplished on his way to Eagle. So and so earned this and that, he was awarded this or that and along the way he saw this and said that. All very good information but somewhat mundane and not very inspiring.
Instead, we received a wonderful and well thought out speech about what happens next. Eagle is the entry to this very selective and honored group of people. We should spend less time talking about “what has been done” and more time talking about “what will do” when we talk about or to somebody who has earned Eagle.
Scout have to complete the process of becoming Eagle before their 18th birthday, which means most of them are about 17 and a half. They still have 80% of their life ahead of them, what will they do with it? Where will the go? What will they see? What will they achieve and become?
My Dad once told me that when he studied karate his sensei used to tell him that earning black belt just meant that you were now ready to begin learning, it is the beginning not the end of the journey. That is how I felt about Eagle this evening while listening to my friend talk.
It’s like how a butterfly must fight its way out of the cocoon to strengthen its muscles enough to fly or its doomed. Fighting to get Eagle is the pre-requisite to open their eyes enough to see the true potential they have in front of them.
Those few that have earned this achievement have gone on to some really amazing things in life, here are just a few job titles that Eagle scouts hold or have held:
Pro Baseball Player
Supreme Court Judge
Director of the CIA
Host of Dirty Jobs
Founder of Wal-Mart
President of the United States
So I ask you…what comes next? What is on your what will do list?
Until Next Time…