Copyright Paul Grimsey, used with permission

Copyright Paul Grimsey, used with permission

To get a feel for the difference between intellectual understanding and insightful, imagine a dog that’s constantly chasing his tail. Now let’s imagine that the dog hires you and me as consultants. We ask the dog what he needs, and he says something like this:

“Here’s what I need: First, I need more speed, because the thing I’m chasing is very fast. It always seems to be able to outrun me. Second, I need more agility, because this thing is also very nimble. Even when I creep up on it, it manages to slip away before I can catch it. Third, I need better strategy, because no matter what I do, it always seems one step ahead of me. It’s almost as if it knows what I’m thinking. Finally, I need more time. I’m already working 12-hout days on this, and it just doesn’t seem to be enough. So that’s what I need: more speed, more agility, better strategy and more.”

You and I both know that all the dog really needs is to realize that it’s his own tail he’s been chasing. But if we tell him that, there are two ways the dog might respond. If he insightfully understands what we tell him, and really “gets it”, then he will visibly relax, sigh and maybe chuckle.

On the other hand, if the dog has an intellectual understanding, but doesn’t have an insight, he might say something like this:

“Right. So you’re telling me it’s my tail. Got it. So I need to remember not to chase it, right? OK. So how do I not chase my tail? Can you just take me through the process?”

If the dog says this, we know that he hasn’t really understood.

-Jamie Smart, Little Book of Clarity

Clarity in Communicating Intent


The Leader, April 1977
From: Don Swanson, Director – Scout Program and Camping & Outdoor Activities
To: Scout Leaders
Subject: Conservation Achievement Badge – Gold Stage

An inquiry was received regarding the gold stage Conservation Achievement Badge requirements 4(a) and 4(h). The inquiry raised the question as to how a Scout can complete the stated requirements while participating in one or more hikes or weekend camps.

I thought perhaps the reply to that inquiry might well be of some assistance to other Scouters.

First, the rational for hikes and camping in the Conservation Badge: when the Scout subcommittee adjusted the Badge system and updated some of the badges in 1972, the decision was made that participation in hiking and/or camping must be a prerequisite to earn an Achievement Award. Thus, all badges in the outdoor category were adjusted to ensure some involvement in hiking or camping. Badge requirements are not viewed as “tests” to be passed, but as activities within which to participate.

Secondly, there’s the perspective of what constitutes a “hike”. The common view likely includes woods, trails and a pack. Scouting defines hiking as “walking with a purpose” (Canadian Scout Handbook, page 56).

I can see your point. At first glance, how can a Scout plan and carry out an anti-litter campaign of keep a record of rainfall as part of a hike or camp? If viewed as tests, the requirements are difficult if not impossible. When viewed as activities, I think they take on a different meaning.

Let’s start with the requirement for the litter campaign.

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Ultimate Test
The Leader, November 1985

Definition of a Cub

The reader is reminded that this passage was written a long time ago. Consequently, they may use some terms or express sentiments which were current at the time, regardless of what we may think of them at the beginning of the 21st century. For reasons of historical accuracy they have been preserved in their original form.

After a male baby has grown out of long clothes and diapers and has acquired freckles… and so much dirt that relatives don’t care to kiss it between meals… it becomes a Cub.

A Cub is nature’s answer to the false belief that there is no such thing as perpetual motion. A Cub can run like a deer, eat like a pig, swim like a fish, climb like a squirrel, bellow like a bull, or act like a jackass according to climate conditions.

He is a piece of skin stretched over an appetite, a noise covered with smudges. He is Mother’s Little Helper, Dad’s Boy, Sister’s Hair Puller, and Akela’s Necessary Headache.

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Simon Sinek: Leaders Eat Last


“Whether you are leading a group or going about your daily life, you need to be conscious. You need to be aware of what is happening and how things happen. If you are aware of what is happening and how things happen, you can act accordingly. You can steer clear of trouble, and be both vital and effective….Consciousness or awareness….is the source of your ability.”

-John Heider, The Tao of Leadership
–Via AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership

Learning to Let Lost Happen

Misty Autumn Forest

Setting The Rules

It was dusk and the sun was setting fast.

“Right, listen up, I only have one rule tonight.”

The group of 9 bunched together, the youngest distracted by the mass of the crowd.

“There must always be a scouter in the front, and one at the back. You have full control of which way we go, but never race in front of the scouter at the front, or fall behind the one at the back.

The drone of noise from the chatty 200 people still in line is only punctuated by periodic cacophony of youth finding their own entertainment.

“Does that mean the leader up front have to keep up with me?”

“No, it means you stay close to the group, but I like your thinking. Here’s your map for each of you. Scouts, you’re in charge of the compass, an extra-large map, and the score sheet. You’ll need to hand score sheet to the stations as we arrive, and keep it safe as we travel.”

“Ooh, ooh I want.”

Looks like the double-sized map is as shiny as thought it would be.

“Alright, it’s 7:30, we have to be back by midnight. Where to first?”
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Making the ordinary extraordinary

Credit: Co.Create : Ricky Gervais Tells A Story About How He Learned To Write

Adam Savage: Ground Rules for Success

Adam Savage’s 10 Ground Rules for Success

1. Get good at something

Really good. Get good at as many things as you can. Being good at one thing makes it easier to get good at other things

2. Getting good at stuff takes practice

Lots and lots of practice


Everyone at the top of their field is obsessed with what they’re doing.
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Mind Like Water