///// An IronMen Moment /////
(Designed to be passed along to the men and young men in your life.)
Servant Leadership: Watchfulness
See that larger goose in the middle foreground of the photo? His head is turned slightly toward another goose that is just getting out of the water and flapping its wings?
He's the father of this bunch in the frame. He just chased off several non-group members of the goose "herd" (okay, flock) who wandered over too far into his territory. It was proximity to his children that triggered his response, not proximity to him. I've witnessed other geese, and many types of ducks, step near the alpha-male of a group, and he all but ignores them. But when there is encroachment on the family-- well, that's a whole 'another matter. Then he takes action.
It's obviously protection at work. The mother is nearby, no doubt; I've seen the mother do the exact same thing. Geese are among the most attentive and protective of bird species that I've ever seen.
And a wonderful thing is: they're so abundant and accessible around here. The geese are relatively easy to see and study. In our area, a wonderful pond sits at Nimbus & Stratus. Another one at Murray & Teal. Each are regularly visited by ducks and geese.
**Gaining goose-like awareness**
This might sound odd, but as young men growing up, very soon to be adults -- and one day, fathers of your own children -- there is a need to begin training yourself with goose-like awareness. Just as the lead male of that flock is aware, so must you be.
A father goose is easy to spot for these reasons:
1. He is nearly always standing, alert, head up, scanning the area, even when the rest have their beaks and/or heads neatly tucked under their feathers for a nap.
2. Of the two parents, he is usually the largest; that's just a feature of how God designed the animal kingdom. It's not incidental; when it comes to defending the flock, size and weight make a difference.
3. He is usually the first to either stand up, turn toward a possible threat (as in that photo), or signal a honk of warning to the group. It's distinct, if you listen for it.
There are two basic skills that I sought to instill in my children as they grew up. They are different, but related. And they aim to develop that very kind if alertness demonstrated by the world of geese & goslings:
1. Environmental scanning
2. Situational awareness.
*Environmental scanning* is that constant generalized read of one's immediate environment. For the daddy and mommy geese, it's what you see them doing when they sit among their little "herd" and constantly gaze about them.
Attitude. Some of it is attitude. The attitude is,"I'm awake, I'm watching, I'm reading what is happening around us. And I'm ready to act on what I see, to warn those I love and serve." It's NOT passive, but active. It's NOT compliant, but assertive. It's NOT to be caught flat-footed, as they say, but ready. It also engages itself mentally, constantly evaluating potential threats.
*Situational awareness* is a similar, but a more concise, more focused version of the environmental scan, and it immediately precedes action (when called for).
To take this out of the family context for a moment, *situational awareness,* when used at the organizational level (ie, a business or corporation), is more often called Strategic Planning. And they go together: environmental scanning and strategic planning. This is what a church elder committee would do, for example.
At the individual level, where you train yourself to operate, this micro awareness looks for specific ways to lead your family to safety. It's the problem-solving skills employed in preparation for a *potential need* for a solution.
An example would be studying a restaurant or a movie theater while you are in it, to know where the exits are located...while in a large gathering with hundreds or more in attendance, it's choosing locations to sit where you might lead your family to safety quickly, such as a fire-door, emergency exit, or stairwell. If your convictions allow you the option of self-defense (and I recognize some Christians may embrace extreme passivity in response to an evil intent to harm...even though I'm not among them), then situational awareness is the process of scanning the environment for useful, go-to defensive tools.
Attitude. Like the former principle, there is an attitude that accompanies this approach. It's the idea that "I will be ready to act on behalf of my family to protect them from harm. That includes scanning the immediate surroundings and making mental plans for contingencies, in the event, however unlikely, it will be needed." It is very much the attitude of a warrior, a fighter, a defender of life. This person will rarely be caught flat-footed, because they've trained themselves to remain alert and ready.
Servant leadership. The idea behind these skills is based in servant leadership. Think of that father goose: he serves his flock -- actually, just the little unit of his mate and their goslings. He leads BY serving. Really, it's just a familial version of the Armed Services. That's what national defenders are sworn to do. When those in the Armed Services take an oath, it is to protect the Constitution of the United States and all those governed by it in the nation. So help them God.
Same with the fathers of a family. And mothers, of course. It is leadership through service...for the sake of the protected.
Food for thought...as you consider what kind if man you want to become.
Remember, the path you choose will become like wagon-tracks; after a short while, they wear grooves in the road, and soon they define your entire life. So...choose wisely.
Brought to you by IronMen.