Monday, May 10, 2021

1999 - Leadership and the Law of the Lid


Brian (L) Megan (R)

(Fifty Nifty Years in United States Series)

There is always room for forgiveness and redemption. I learned that lesson with Brian. My first impressions of Brian were that he had a big heart and needed to share that with others.

I recall having him meet Alec at the YMCA in late 1998. Alec was 4 or 5 years old and Brian was towering behind the stomach height front desk counter at the Y. He did something that I did not expect. He came around and got down to Alec’s height and introduced himself. I found it astounding. I knew that we would work together at camp.

Brian brought along several of his friends, Katie, Trey and Phil. (All amazing young people that brought leadership in their own rights) Together he helped usher in more children who otherwise would not have been able to come to camp.

We spent many hours’ playing cards (Palace) and late night talks and games of HORSE. At the end of our 2nd year together at camp, I fell to pressure and Brian and I parted ways. It was one of those situations where I allowed many outside voices to enact what I felt I should absolutely NOT do.

It has been one of those recurring lessons for me. I have always said, “Camp is about beginnings and endings.” (Thanks Brian Crater) and this was one of those endings that I applied my three questions of “What went right, what went wrong, and how do I do it better next time?”

As it were, my tie with that Y ended as well and Lee Anne and I relocated to a Camp in Florida. By the third spring we were there, I needed a strong leader to help drive program culture and Brian showed up having the summer off between his graduate programs. He came in like a whirlwind and help shove the entire camp forward to focus on camper interactions and relationship building. 

We were even featured in the Outdoor Network cable series about YMCA camps as a unique program – you can still find it in three parts on YouTube. Brian was eloquent, and I stuttered my way through. (Watch those videos here)

During our time that summer, Brian brought to my attention a simple concept that I would later learn John Maxwell called “the Law of the Lid.” I had given a staff member the opportunity to lower the bar, so to speak, on his performance. One of our cabin leaders needed some time and space to re-evaluate their circumstances (some life issues happening during work). Being that staff lived and worked at the site, I made accommodations for them. Other staff were upset by my actions and Brian brought it to my attention.

Brian pointed out to me that every time I lowered the bar, this individual would drop the same amount in their performance. He even coined the phrase of “Al Ferreira’s camp for wayward leaders.” 

I have often told individuals that I am their biggest fan. It is a blind spot that as a leader, I now have named (and had a reputation) thanks to Brian. I am grateful for that lesson. I am even more grateful to Brian his ability to forgive and provide redemption. 

Our previous camp interaction had not ended well at all. He found room in his world to want to give me another opportunity to step up my leadership game. Like that moment where he came around the counter to greet Alec, he came around again to give me a chance to work with him.

In my 50 plus years in these United States, I have come across some amazing young people and Brian has lead the way in his work and how he treats people. Thank you for your continued example.

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