Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flashbacks to The Pirate Counselor

The acclaimed director, George Roy Hill gave a dressing-down to Paul Newman for feeling sorry for himself and for believing that he was not worthy of his lot in life.  Mr. Newman lamented that if it were not for luck he'd be a nobody.  Mr. Hill told him, "Some people sit by the window all day and watch Luck pass by."

Opportunity.  Fate.  Luck.

So, really, it is not just luck.  It takes Fate.  The right place at the right time.  Circumstances and Opportunity, too.  And you need to seize the moment.  Otherwise, Luck will just pass right by your window.

It is the last day of your first school year as a counselor and a parent drops by your office.  She is about to ask if you know anyone who'd like to be a counselor on a sail boat to work with adjudicated youth. No pressure or anything, but You better do this!

Malcolm Gladwell has a pretty good theory laid out in his book, Outliers, that it takes 10,000 hours to master your craft.  It requires innate talent, to be sure.  But it also requires no small amount of opportunity, luck, and practiced purposeful repetition.  Mr. Gladwell delineates the timeline of Bill Gates and The Beatles as they did their thing hour after hour after hour for years at a time.  It is a story worth reading.

Words to live by to The Rookie Counselor Me:  This seems kind of daunting when you are just beginning. But, if you have found your thing, then you do it because you love it. It will drive you and provide you with profound meaning. It is your little Acorn of Purpose. If it is what you really want to do with your life then it is going to grow and prosper and thrive.

You will sail aboard the Francis Crow, namesake for the Englishman who, in 1818, patented the first liquid mariner compass. She's a 40-foot schooner of tight and limited space for 8 kids, a Captain, and a First Mate.  (These camps sailed the Chesapeake Bay for week-long excursions.) You will help them learn responsibility, respect, manners, cooperation and teamwork, and on and on.  These kids will swab the decks, cook in the galley, clean the head, practice seamanship, and try not to wring each others' neck.  There will be boys and girls from age 8 to 17.  It will be quite the challenge.

I could not have asked for a more organic setting to work on group dynamics and individual behaviors of real concern (BORC).  Crammming 11 people in a small space with blazing sun one day and driving rain the next creates a canvas of plentiful drama for a counselor to practice his craft.

This was an invaluable and mighty learning experience for me.  I plowed through a lot of those 10,000 hours needed to become versatile in my craft.  (During the Summer, 6 days a week, for 5 years). It was fun.  It did not feel like 'work'.  It required a high degree of concentrated focus, a receptive openness to be in the moment and fully present, and nurturing engagement with these kids from culturally eccletic experiences. 

It took Luck. 

Do not let Luck pass by your window. 

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