From time to time, readers of this blog offer gems that deserve a broad circulation (and I invite you to submit your gems too). David Long is a Texas-based consultant who has used a grant we arranged for him through the First Command Educational Foundation to create a hugely successful Leadership Curriculum for high school students enabling them to acquire a letter in leadership. Here is his inspiring story…
Lance: It is my personal observation that good leaders make good gardeners. Leaders, like gardeners, plant a great many seeds with the intent of feeding and nurturing those seeds first into seedlings, then into early growth, and finally into full fledged contributions to the flowering garden.
A recent “gardening” experience was available to our team at the annual conference of the Texas Association of Student Councils, an umbrella organization in the state of Texas for high school student leadership teams. Our organization, which seeks to bring the CASTLE® principles to young student leaders, was sponsoring a booth at the convention to spread the word about our online leadership community.
Convention booths can be notoriously slow, with unpredictable traffic and so we decided to create a way of inviting the attention of the attending students─we designed a set of silicon bracelets with the CASTLE® principles etched into the front face and our website address etched into the back.
Our plan: To entice a few students into the booth with the bracelets, by giving them our 3 minute infomercial regarding our online leadership community, describing the CASTLE® principles that are foundational to our teaching, and then uncover some information about their own programs. If they would listen for just a few minutes, we would recognize their attention by giving them one of the bracelets─they could pick Courage or Service or any other of the six uniquely solid colored bracelets.
And…by the way….we also have this swirling rainbow colored bracelet with “CASTLE®” etched into it. If the students wished to earn that one….they first had to earn the complete set of six individual bracelets.
And to earn the bracelets we asked them to go back out onto the convention floor, find another student from a different school than their own, who was not yet wearing one of our bracelets…..introduce themselves…learn something about them…tell them what you are doing and why…and then bring them back to our booth so we could describe the philosophy of the CASTLE® principles to them. We explained that each time they brought back a new person, they would earn another bracelet in the set.
We opened the booth at 2pm. After we sent out that first group of “scouts” we spoke to students without stop for almost three hours, sometimes in groups of 8 or 10 or 12 at a time. At one point I looked up and my partner, Aleesha, was speaking to a dozen, I had another group of 10, and at least a dozen more were waiting to be introduced to us. Some of the “scouts” took it upon themselves to begin the “infomercial” by talking to their new friends about the program, the CASTLE® principles…and of course the bracelet “contest” going on that day.
It became a frenzy. One student went to get water bottles for a parched Aleesha and I. The Texas Association of Student Councils convention sponsors came over to see what in the world was going on at our booth. The poor business next to us had to step to the side so that we could get more students into our own booth.
We gave away every bracelet we had at the convention.
And that evening, in Arlington, Texas, at the Texas Association of Student Councils convention….. 850 students were wearing CASTLE® principle bracelets and talking about Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love, and Effectiveness.
I just love planting seeds in the garden! Pardon me now – I must go water and feed them!