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Berkonomics

Act like an Eagle Scout.

You may have been a Girl Scout or a Boy Scout in your youth.  Certainly you are aware of the top rank in each – the Gold Award for girls and the Eagle badge for boys.  Scouting teaches leadership and even if we were not members in our youth, there are lessons for us all.

For example, the Boy Scouts of America motto is “Be prepared.”  And from that comes training in first aid, disaster preparation, and outdoor skills, planning for events and outings, and any number of simulations or practice runs at rescue training – from snake bites to earthquakes to fires to broken limbs to heart attacks in the wilderness.  We could learn from this simple oath taken by boys from ten to eighteen.  Simply learning to ask “What if?” of our direct reports is a good first step toward reducing exposure to bad outcomes, whether attempting to plan for handling a natural disaster or workplace calamity.

[Email readers, continue here…]  Every Scout memorizes the twelve points of the Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  That may seem an overwhelming list of aspirations, but would it not be a better world if each of us practiced most, if not all, of these?

By the time a boy reaches Eagle Scout, he has internalized the Scout Oath and Scout Law to a degree many employers later recognize makes him a better candidate for a job merely by that attainment in his youth.   After all, only two percent of all Boy Scouts do reach Eagle rank.

We adults cannot revisit our youth to live seven years of our lives with these principles always in close sight.  But we can aspire to act like an Eagle Scout, an adult who recognizes the values and attempts to practice them in business and personal life for the betterment of ourselves and our companies.

  • Kyl Johnson

    Good Points there but with the ban lifted on allowing gay members to join that defiling there scout oath which is i will keep my self morally straight as an Eagle Scout I’m deeply sadden that they allowed it but the scouts does teach young boys and girls life skills

  • Steve Fryer

    Dave, I am an Eagle Scout and very much appreciate your article and back up of the Scouting program. It does all you mentioned and more. It has made a major difference in my life. Thanks for the support. Steve

  • I was recruited into Boy Scouting to be a female leader in Exploring. I earned my Wood Badge and became a Wood Badge Staffer. The training surpasses anything I’ve experienced in my professional career and gave me the foundation to build my own business. Involve your youth and get involved as an adult. You will not regret a minute!

  • Dave Berkus

    As the father of four sons all of whom are Eagle Scouts, it has been an honor to see how thr Values which are taught along the trail to Eagle have embodied their work and relationships. For the most part, my best friends are Eagle Scout Dads. Common goals, missions, and blessings. I have prehired many a manager who place Eagle Scout on their resume. Its a medal by the way, not a badge. kw

  • Andrew Gray

    That made me smile… I am an Eagle Scout, and after almost 20 years since my ceremony, I still recited the 12 points of the scout law from memory before you wrote them out…

  • Dave,
    Great post! Although I never got the aviation merit badge, I did make Eagle and the core ethics that permeate the program translate well into business. I hired my first Eagle Scout this year; been looking forward to that. We found him after seeing a newspaper article on him saving the life of a drowning custodian at his school pool. Anyone with the courage to jump a fence, dive into a pool, drag a grown man to the deck and perform CPR to revive him deserves a first look. After meeting him, we hired him on the spot…we didn’t even have a position for him but, somehow knew we would make one. Eagles seem to flock and we hired a couple of his Eagle buddies too.

  • The simplicity of this post reminded me of some pundits’ wall street/financial melt down post mortems of some good few years back.

    The discussions related to the behavior of certain segments of the financial community and the observation that many individuals demonstrated a startling lack of ethical awareness. The recommendation was that business schools better add a stronger focus on ethics.

    I found that thought laughable at the time . . . too little too late.

    I’m not sure where ethics COME FROM – these people believe it is taught http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/canethicsbetaught.html as an example.

    I do know for CERTAIN where ethics disappear TO – leaders who drag the unsuspecting neophyte into black holes. Many a boy scout, many a salesperson, many financial managers have been dragged down this black hole, this corruption vortex often without them realizing the day they crossed the ethical line. Once a “born leader/charismatic” has dragged them across the line the first time, it becomes easier and easier to drag them down further.

    Scouting, “adult supervision” (e.g. Kweku Adoboli in his late twenties) and most of all leadership from the top of the organization establishes where the line is and that it may never be crossed.

  • Dean Berkus MD

    Very true. I was a Boy Scout and think better for the experience while growing up. Although I didn’t achieve Eagle I was on my way. I still live my life with those principles.

  • Dave,
    Thank you for pointing out the virtues of scouting. Seems that there are too many folks out there who would rather attack scouting than embrace it for the incredible positive impact it has had on the world for more than 100 years. I applaud you for having the courage to use Scouting as an example to follow and be proud of.
    Yours in Scouting,
    Pat Brenden

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