Wednesday, July 21, 2021

2006 - Leadership - It's Not About Me


Matt' Copperhead" Sheah

(Fifty Nifty Years in the United States Series)

Several times I have tried to update Wikipedia – I have submitted Matt’s name and profile to go with the word “Loyalty.” I am unclear why they do not accept this. Anyone who has worked or known Matt Sheah knows of his loyalty and devotion. His camp name is “Copperhead."

He got that name on the third time I met him. He had just arrived at the camp I was running in Florida from 2004-2009. Several of us were down at the spring trying to figure out how to remove a snake from near the pier. Matt walked up, assessed the situation and moved to action. He walked up to a utility truck, took out a large screw driver, walked down to the water, stabbed the snake in the back of the head and removed it.

Not actual picture of Matt and the Copperhead (shown for size estimate only)

It has long been noted in my family (Ferreira) that we are heirs to the throne in Portugal. Some circumstantial evidence supports that – at best. In the knights of old, there was always a knight that protected the King’s family. Loyal to a fault and would give anything and always had the royal family in his best care. So, should some series of circumstances all for my family’s  return to power in Portugal, I would have Matt as my Minister of All Things.

All joking aside, Matt is one of the best people I have had the opportunity to work with in all my years. That has been Matt Sheah and did I mention he is a black belt; and an Eagle Scout; and a teacher; and a husband; and a exceptional father; and a great person; and so much more including my friend.

It was at our second camp that we officially adopted INAM as a staff philosophy. For those who are unfamiliar with INAM - it stands for "It's Not About Me." Several dozen (maybe hundred) times in my career and life, I have had moments where I made the mistake to focus on what I needed and lost focus on how to serve. At the camp in new York, it was a dominant culture with the leadership. Upon my arrival, I met with no less than 17 different folks who informed me that they had "director" in their title. It was in those conversations that I asked about who actually worked directly with children and not a single one of those folks did.

Matt and I began a culture change process and formerly adopted the INAM as a way to instill focus on our mission, "serving youth." 

When I think about the terrible things that happen in the news about our world, I know that Matt is hope for the future. His influence with young people gives me great hope. When I was offered a position to change camps and move 11 states away, Matt was the first person I asked to help me move and in my mind, I thought if I could just get him to come along I would get to continue working with him. Somehow that plan ended up working and I got to work with him for two more years.

It was his loyalty and his fervent support of whatever agenda I had. In private we would discuss and disagree. And when we were in front of our team, he would always forward the agenda and culture. It is a value that I learned from him and I did not consider how much I valued that until I was no longer working with him. 

Matt has always furthered the mission of sharing the outdoors and leadership with so many youth. John Maxwell's 11th Law of Leadership is that of the Law of the Inner Circle. John talks about it being the company you keep and how that reflects back on you. I have been so fortunate to be in Matt's inner circle at two different camps serving thousands of youth and leaders. If my potential is determined by those closest to me, than I am better for having Matt influence my life and work,

I have had the fortune of working with Matt, who is an exceptional person and I am extremely grateful for having had him as part of my 50 plus years in these United States.

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