Friend of the Unit

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By Joe Schaeffer, Assistant Council Commissioner, Las Vegas, Nevada

Note: This month we have an article from a guest contributor. We are pleased that Joe Schaeffer has agreed to share his article.

Foghorn Leghorn was a Warner Bros. cartoon character, an adult rooster from Kentucky who was always full of himself. When making a speech for a senatorial election, he began, “My friends—and don’t tell me you’re not my friends; nobody can tell me who my friends are!”

We all aspire to friendship. Can you be friends with a gallon of gasoline? A quart of milk? An inch or a yard? Of course not—these are units! Oh wait! Commissioners are a friend to the unit! A Scouting unit is an entity made up of components such as committees, families, leaders, and Scouts—all people! Commissioners may be working with multiple units! That is a lot of people. How can we become friends with all of them?

New friends are generally categorized as acquaintances, someone you know and who knows you and you know a little about each other. Let’s look backward a little. Do you have friends from many years past that you see only occasionally yet when you get together it is like old times? This is a relationship.

In making friends with a unit, what we really seek is a RELATIONSHIP! Relationships are built; they don’t just happen. You can’t be friends with someone you do not know or someone who does not know you. So the first part of a relationship, just like a friendship, is an introduction. Others need to know and remember your name and you need to know and remember theirs. You need to ask questions about their lives, past and present, so that you can find common links. Answers to questions need to be forthright; questions need to be friendly. Having done this, you have made an acquaintance of someone.

The object is to build the friendship to a point where each is comfortable with the other and to like each other. This is the beginning of a relationship. When your paths cross, you greet each other openly and are genuinely friendly. Meeting on multiple occasions gives you the opportunity to exchange views. Out of these exchanges, two or more people begin to build a respect for each other’s views and out of that respect seek out each other in times of need. If you can accomplish that, you have made a real friend and have a relationship!

Friends can count on each other in time of need. Advice may be sought after and taken because people understand and trust each other.

Commissioners can be very busy with UNITS that could use assistance. Units do not need assistance; people do! If, as commissioners, we invest our time wisely recognizing the people in the units and developing a real relationship with them, our roles will become easier. Unit leadership will respond to commissioners’ desires and their own needs because of that relationship.

A little time building a good relationship with the people in a unit could save the commissioner many hours of frustration in the future. Invest your time wisely in creating relationships—the return on investment is worth it.