Learning to Lead

courage, confidence, and character

It’s been less than a year since Anna joined Girl Scouts, and yet she is the most experienced Brownie in our troop. This wasn’t the plan. When she joined last April we hoped to find an active Brownie troop with at least some girls who had started as daisies. We figured that their experience would help guide Anna, since she (and we too) were new to Girl Scouts.

For many reasons that I won’t go into, it did not work out that way. Instead, Anna is by far the most experienced Brownie in her troop, and that’s okay.

She has stepped up to the challenge.

It took three tries to find the right troop. But when we joined in October there was one small problem. Anna was the only Brownie. So in November, she help us lead a Brownie information night where she showed off her badges and patches, and taught everyone to make jewelry with multicolored rubber bands and a plastic fork. Four brownie joined after the info night and we now have a good Brownie group.

Girl Scout Law

Since everyone but Anna was new to Brownies, we started the Brownie Quest journey in December. Anna has been a great girl leader through the whole process, helping the other girls learn the Girl Scout Law (above), participating in all the activities, and finishing all her “homework” on time.

In January, we took a field trip to an orthodontists office. Anna was able to overcome her own shyness about her braces and share her own experience with the other girls in the troop (Cadettes, Juniors, and Brownies). She even showed off her “mouth jewelry” to everyone.

Flag of Brazil

And in February, Anna learned the samba as part of our World Thinking Day activity, and made both a Brazilian flag and a poster of Brazil facts for our booth at our service unit’s World Thinking Day event. Anna shared her knowledge of Brazil, danced some, and took a turn playing the maracas.

As I watch her engaged in all these activities, her vest covered in badges and patches, it’s easy to forget that she’s been a Girl Scout for only ten months. She’s taken to it, and she’s already learning to lead.

And that reminds me how quickly we all can go from student to teacher, and from learner to leader. It also reminds me that we are always doing a bit of each in life—leading and following, teaching and learning—and we’ll continue to do so as long as we want to keep growing.

Cheerleaders of Faith

The Two Kinds of Pride

Cheetah and two cubs

Photo: Julia Ozab

I’m struggling with pride. Not the sin itself—though I’ve certainly fallen into that trap many times—but with the word.

Why? Because there are two kinds of pride. And neither of them is a group of big cats.

We all know the sin of pride. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, which doesn’t mean its worse than other sins, but that it’s foundational. Pride is a root human condition, like lust, greed, envy, anger, laziness, and gluttony, that leads us astray. We all experience these temptations and when we act on them we sin.

But there’s another kind of pride. The pride a parent feels for a child, or the pride a child feels when doing something good, noble, or generous. Plus there’s the behavior code of Anna’s school, a code called Cheetah Pride.

  • Perseverance.
  • Respect.
  • Integrity.
  • Diversity.
  • Excellence.

All noble ideals, summed up in the acronym PRIDE.

So what’s the problem? Well Anna is having trouble understanding the difference between the two kinds of pride. I don’t want to discourage her outgoing spirit, which has flourished at her new school over the last year-and-a-half, and I want her to take pride in her accomplishments. Above all, between her apraxia and her new braces, I don’t want her to retreat into a shell.

But I don’t want her boasting either, and sometimes she does it without realizing. The first time I caught her boasting I tried to talk to her about pridefulness.

“What’s wrong with pride?” she asked. It was a tough question to answer. I had to find a different word that conveyed the bad pride.

And I did. Hubris.

Arrogant, pompous, conceited, and self-important. That’s the bad kind of pride. So from now on I will say “pride” for the good kind of pride and “hubris” for the bad kind.

And I’ve expanded her already large vocabulary. Which is a good reason for us both to be proud.

Cheerleaders of Faith