Legs failing, back straining, feet aching, as my eleven man crew perseveres up the unsteady terrain of Mt. Phillips. With a summit of 12,000 feet still some four miles away and the sun lying low in the sky, we pass on words of encouragement. Not letting the idea of failure enter our minds, we push on as one, eager to reach the summit. Each bend unpleasantly surprises us with more unforeseen distance still yet to travel. We press on… to finally see the end is near.
Six years ago at the tender age of eleven, I moved on from Cub Scouts and joined the Boy Scouts of America Troop 146. Boy Scouts has giving me many opportunities to test myself, and I have made the most of them. But when I was offered to lead a crew on a two week 90 mile trek on the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, I was hesitant at first knowing the responsibilities that is put on the crew leader. I honestly questioned whether I could handle it.
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In the weeks prior to the trip, I contemplated what being a good leader meant and what characteristics make up a strong leader. As the trek went on I discovered that there was a more effective way to lead than to order the scouts around. I connected with each member of the crew on a more personal level, hoping to understand what each Scout had to offer to create an efficient crew on the trail. This in turn, helped build stronger team spirit amongst our crew.
As the trek progressed, everyone began to assume a unique role on the team, which resulted in less required direction from me as a leader. It was at this time that I learned the most regarding what makes a leader. This situation allowed me to step back just enough to observe the cohesiveness and effectiveness of our team.
Looking back on it now, I’ve come to realize that it is the team that makes a good leader. It’s the team from which the leader receives ideas and feedback. The leader has to listen and understand the team, but without a great team, even the best leaders are restricted in their effectiveness. General Douglas MacArthur once said: “A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.”
Exhausted but thrilled, we approach the summit just as the magnificent sun sets over the horizon. Sighs of relieve can be heard, in awe of our victory over the treacherous Mt. Phillips. We remind ourselves that this is only one obstacle of many to come in this trip and in our lives.