I was a new Patrol Leader at the very first Scout meeting I ever had with my Patrol….
I was nervous and excited. How would the Patrol react to my leadership? How could I make this work?
The Senior Patrol Leader gave orders for the Patrols to split up and work on rank advancement. About five minutes later, it was chaos!
A couple of guys were having a spirited debate about some video game; another two were laughing uncontrollably over some joke they made up; one was busy rearranging stuff that belonged to the church where we were meeting; and the last Scout was struggling to sit still and listen to what I had to say about first aid.
As you can imagine, this wasn’t exactly encouraging to the younger and very serious me. Quite frankly, it was a bit depressing. How could I be a good Patrol Leader if I couldn’t run one meeting right?
This was my introduction to leadership over chaos. I soon became very well acquainted with chaos. Eventually chaos became my friend and ally. What in the world?
I learned to master chaos when I understood the difference between two causes of chaos: unfocused energy and deliberate mischief. One is good, the other is bad.
Deliberate mischief is bad. Mischievous Scouts are consciously trying to stir up trouble. They don’t respect authority (especially a new Patrol Leader) and try to make things difficult. Unfortunately you may have to deal with Scouts like this. Do everything you can to work with them and get them on your side. If nothing else works and a troublemaker is disrupting the Patrol go up the chain of command and report it to the Senior Patrol Leader.
Most of the time chaos is just unfocused energy. (Thankfully mischievous Scouts aren’t the norm!) Scouts do respect authority… to a point, but get distracted if they are bored. They want to pay attention but may lack discipline and self-control. If they aren’t active a surplus of energy builds up. This surplus energy shows itself in talking out of turn with other Scouts, goofing off, and not paying attention. You probably do the same sort of thing when you are bored and so do I. If you’re a Patrol Leader I expect you’ve learned how to be more disciplined and self-controlled, but your Scouts may still need some help.
Discipline and self-control as a leader makes it possible to become a “Master of Chaos”.
In part two I’ll tell you how to make chaos work for you instead of fighting against it.
In the meantime, think about the difference between unfocused energy and deliberate mischief. You shouldn’t mistake one for another.
Is there a Scout in your Patrol who deliberately causes trouble? How do you know it’s not just undisciplined energy? What are you doing to resolve it? Leave an answer in the comments or on the GreenBar Life forum.