Let them be FREE! So you can be…


In our month of independence (at least in the US), I say let them be free! The people you lead that is.

As I mentioned last month, my kids were heading off to camp for three weeks. What did they enjoy the most? Was it the killer canoe trip? The awesome zip line? The campfire tradition? Sure, that was all cool, but when I ask them what they enjoy the most, they say it’s the freedom. “I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s awesome.”

Think about it. As a kid, you spend the majority of your day being told what you’ll do and when you’ll do it, either by parents or teachers.

So for three whole weeks, this group of boys live in a world of personal choice. After breakfast at the back cabin, they meet up at the flagpole where each child chooses what will happen that day. Counselors sound off one by one with offerings:

“I want to go swimming today. Who wants to join me?”

“I thought I’d do a canoe trip down in Kentucky? First 12 interested, grab a life jacket.”

The offerings go forward one by one until every child has selected what HE wants to do that day. What he has the energy for, or what he has the interest in, or what HE wants to do.

Camp is not without chores or rules, but the activities are positioned as the things we need to do.  They ensure that everyone has “the most fun and excitement the summer can offer” (per the camp’s core purpose). So if we’re all into making that purpose happen, we’re willing to do our part like… make our bunks, play nice with others, be safe (and maybe write your mother).

What might seem to the outside observer as a “Lord of the Flies” environment, is a well-orchestrated lesson in how to lead others.

We didn’t like being told what to do as kids, and we certainly don’t like it as adults. As a leader:

  • Hire people who are excited about your core purpose.
  • Hire individuals for their strengths and passion for the role you have and then invite them to the flagpole over and over again.
  • Know that everyone will pitch in and do the not so fun work when necessary.
  • Enjoy your new freedom of time you would have spent otherwise controlling everyone’s time and choices!

Go one, let ‘em loose. It is not as scary as you think.


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