Converging independence and collaboration

I don’t know whether it’s a triumph of intellectual composting or a triumph of physical activity’s utility for freeing creativity’s stuck gears, but after a round of listening to podcasts while lawn-mowing and hedge-trimming, I know that today I’m going to shake my head about the silly things boys say.

I’m not going to link to the podcast; if I’m going to fuss, I’m not going to point my finger and wag it as well. The boy, henceforward Interviewee, has a book about humility, perhaps regaining the lost art of humility? He worked for Dov Charney at American Apparel for a while, so I absolutely saw that coming. So far, so good. As he was  warming up to his host, Interviewee launched into how lacking in humility he finds the whole self-development world, with their exhortations to just go out and do something, to dare greatly… . 

I sucked in my breath, and started to roll up my sleeves-What is he talking about?! That’s not what Daring Greatly is about at ALL–when I caught myself and started to laugh. Look, it’s the Boy Scout/Girl Scout debate all over again!

No, this is A Thing. Especially in my world. Luckily for me, my sister–who earned a Gold Award–and my brother-in-law–who is an Eagle Scout–spent a considerable amount of time early in their marriage hashing out the simliarities and differences between the Scoutings, so we can all benefit from their research. The capsule version?  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts take very different paths to produce very similar kinds of people. Boy Scouting emphasizes, no, requires working in groups and collaborating in order to achieve goals. Because, observationally speaking, groups of boys will atomize and/or dominate in order to pursue their singularly envisioned outcomes. Cat-herding’s got nothing on it. Girl Scouting, on the other hand, spends a lot of time and energy warmly encouraging girls to speak their own minds, to try new experiences, and to dare. Because, observationally speaking, even very young girls will take the temperature of the girl-collective before… well, anything. As someone who works with middle school girls earning Silver Awards (a slightly smaller Gold), the word I have to pry them away from is “we.” A Silver is not awarded to a group, but the young woman will nevertheless write “we.” Claiming the work she did as exclusively her own worries the snot out of her.

So I laughed, because Daring Greatly is in many ways a hymn to reaching a little farther, to saying “I” and not always “we.” It’s a how-to manual for the perennially humble to figure out how to venture. If you are not worried about maybe being the nail that sticks up high enough to get whacked with a hammer, this may not be the book for you. 

Maybe instead you will read this boy’s book, and discover how restraining your ego can make you stronger, wiser, and generally better able to get things done. Then you can come find me back in girl-land, helping young women practice saying, “It was hard, and I did it.”

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