Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's up to you to make the Choice Now

"Don't change the mission to concentrate on the mistakes, Concentrate on the mission and change the mistakes"-John C. Maxwell

This quote comes from the book I'm reading Be a People Person: Effective Leadership Through Effective Relationships. As I've read this book, I've began reading critically. I believe through reading this way, I've gotten more out of this book, than previous books I read.

When I first read this, I was blown away. We are confronted with this everyday, whether people realize it or not. A great way I can relate this statement, is the progress (and lack thereof) that I have had in the Botball competitions that I have been in over the past five years.

In our first year of competition, we were all jumping at the bit, concentrated on the mission and what we could do complete it. FYI Botball seasons are comprised of a given mission for the six weeks, and the same mission carried on to Nationals six months later. So our first year, we were set on the mission, we had no idea what we were doing, but we knew what we wanted to do. In the end, if we hadn't made a crucial mistake between the seeding rounds and head-to-head we would have been in the top three. But this mistake landed us second to last.

Going into our second year, we changed our mission. Instead of being concentrated on the mission, we concentrated on the mistakes we made the previous year. This got us no where, on sheer luck we were able to make it to the top six. Mainly from some good work in an added scoring section of documentation.

Our third year, was our final year as a group. We came to the realization, we needed to stay focused on the mission, we knew what our mistakes were, and fixed them. With this in mind, we stole the show. In our first seeding round, we scored more than all the other ten teams combined scored the entire day. It was one of the most lopsided regional competition in Botball history. We placed first in all three sections of competition. We then decided to go to Nationals, where we placed tenth out of nearly sixty teams. We would have ended higher if it hadn't been for a judge breaking the rules.

In my fourth year, I competed with my school. We started out with fifteen kids. But only four of us were dedicated to the mission. With myself, and one other the only two truly dedicated to building and programming the robots, but we stayed focused on the mission, doing our best we placed third overall.
I continued on by myself with a group of people to Nationals that year. The robots though did not fare the flight well, and being by myself had a hard time getting the robots back in working shape.

In my fifth year I worked with another team. In working with this team, I worked on one robot, while some of the other kids worked on the other robot. I trusted them to finish the robot in time, but it was not completed, in the end I built a robot the day before competition. Without this robot, we would not have been able to place second overall. Placing second overall is something that was extremely hard, with only limited support from one other team member. I had the opportunity to go to Nationals with them, but I abandoned the mission, because carrying a team on your own can be hard. As I had learned from the previous years Nationals.

What I learned through all this, is that if you are conscious of your mistakes, and stay concentrated on the mission, you are apt to go a long way. If you concentrate on the mistakes, you lose sight of the mission and are unable to complete it to your best ability. When you attempt to carry a group mission on your own, you can't do it. If you are on a mission, that is for a team, you need a team. If you cannot gain a team, it is best to abandon the mission, or acquire new members.

(Title from Free to Conquer by Subseven)

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