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Posted: October 06, 2009

What Girl Scouts can teach you about successfully pursuing your pot of gold

Organizations benefit when team members work together toward a common goal

Theresa M. Szczurek

Every organization benefits when team members work passionately together toward a common, meaningful goal.  The reward is not only the pot of gold at the end; it includes enjoying the journey.

This past weekend my Girl Scout troop of 12- and 13-year old middle-school girls completed an important pursuit of passionate purpose.  As part of earning their silver award, the highest earned award given to Cadette Girl Scouts, these five girls planned and ran an “Outdoor Skills” campout for nearly 75 people in the mountains.  Unknown to them, the scouts used a universal four-step proven process which brings success in pursuing important goals.

1. Find Passion.  The intersection of your values and your gifts describes what you are passionate about. Passion is important because it is the fuel for the pursuit -- it makes a huge difference in the level of engagement, enthusiasm and energy directed toward the purpose.  The Cadette Girl Scouts found their passion by aligning their love of outdoors with their abilities to teach outdoor skills to others.

2. Align Passion with a Purpose.  After finding passion, then align it with a worthwhile purpose. For the Cadettes, the purpose was to teach younger Girl Scouts, third through sixth graders, basic outdoor skills such as knot tying, lashing, using a compass, identifying nature, using tools, teambuilding, first aid, and more so they could love the outdoors, too.

3. Pursue the Pursue with a Plan and People. Then develop a focused plan to implement while enjoying the process. The Cadettes drafted a road map to get to where they wanted to go. They broke the journey up into smaller parts and pursued each part – training for and participating in an outdoor skills competition as a way of learning what they would ultimately teach, going on a practice campout, getting first aid certified, and more. 

4. Assess Progress.  This is the stage to evaluate progress, recognize success, appreciate, and determine what’s next. At each skill station, girls filled out a short assessment.  At the end of the weekend, leaders and girls completed a longer evaluation form. As a result of this event, almost every attendee improved her confidence level in each skill and many reported now loving tent camping.  What an impact was made on these younger girls.  The Cadettes, who stretched themselves in planning and preparing over four months, also gained confidence in their ability to successfully complete such a big project.   Now after they rest a bit, the Scouts will determine the ways to build on their success.

The pursuit was not without its challenges such as team conflicts, time constraints juggling multiple priorities, limited budget, and uncontrollable factors such as bad weather. That’s life. The Cadettes learned that situations can be difficult as well as easy. Yet with persistence, team work with the right people, bringing along the energizers and unpacking the hindrances you will make it to your goal.

I will always remember the pleased and confident look on the Cadettes at lunch (midway through the outdoor skill event), when they reported on how well it all was going. “The girls get what I am teaching. They like the learning activities and are enjoying themselves.” Here was the pot of gold! 

Practical Pointers.
• Use the 4-stage ‘pursuit of passionate purpose’ process
• Connect with the proper people to help along the way
• Use the ‘divide and conquer’ approach – commit to a clear purpose, divide it into parts, conquer piece by piece with unremitting will, and guild confidence from the accomplishment
• Focus, finish, and fly – say ‘no’ to many things to say ‘yes’ to finishing your passionate purpose
• Be clear on what you want and allow how you get it to unfold.  This will help you enjoy the journey.

What big goals are you working towards?  You and your teams should use this process too and you will get to your pot of gold.

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Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, is a serial technology entrepreneur. The story of her last start-up, which sold for more than $40 million in less than six years, is included, along with her strategies for success, in the Amazon-bestseller Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life. www.RadishSystems.com, www.radishsprouts.typepad.com and @TheresaSzczurek on twitter.

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Readers Respond

Theresa, The title caught my attention since I always considered this an outstanding organization based upon the experiences it offers young girls. Recently however, I've been extremely disappointed in the Mother's selling the cookies, knocking doors to collect the money (even a phone call asking me to mail a check for delivery of the goods) and setting up the booths at the grocery stores. The latter isn't really that bad, if the girls were selling and the mom's standing behind the scenes. I've also been at a loss for words not to hear a simple "thank you" over the past few years. My friends and I have been astonished by this alone. If they're not learning the Golden Rule in this organization, does anything else matter? By Gayle on 2009 10 20

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