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I adapted the following from a presentation given by Frank Hart Smith to new church recreation directors. The words are important for all facets of recreation leadership.
1. Be a recreated and a re-created recreator. Our industry has the potential for workaholism. We work during the day to create memorable events for our customers and then work evenings and weekends during the events. So, keep the balance in your life.
2. Remember the worth of the individual. We are in the people business. While some people can get on our nerves, it is still our task to provide them with activities that improve their quality of life. Abraham Lincoln said, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.”
3. Experience the excitement of the ordinary encounter. Extraordinary days are rare — for example, the announcement of a new job, marriage, birth of a child, etc. Life consists of routines and patterns. Take joy in the days that are “normal” and “ordinary.” We get more of those types of days.
4. Be a lazy leader. Learn to delegate and trust your team. Don’t do anything you can get someone else to do for you. Define success by how many people you involve in shared leadership.
5. Water not the spark. A girl at camp mixed up the metaphors of “Fan the spark and water the seed.” As leaders, let’s not destroy dreams and creative ideas. Instead, let your team try new and outlandish program possibilities.
6. Realize the necessity of integrity, the one thing no one can take from you. A mentor told me repeatedly, “The three things that get leaders in trouble are money, sex and a good story about either of the first two.” Reputation is what others think of you. Integrity is what you know about yourself.
7. Appreciate your staff and honor them by taking your day off. Train your team well enough that you can be away without it being a major catastrophe.
8. Remember your family and friends. Whether it’s a marriage, partnership or friendship, be careful that work does not inhibit your intimate relationships. Instead, take the time to enjoy those closest to you.
9. Know the value of both definitions of organization. Maintain your organization by keeping a calendar and task list. I know from experience it’s best to double check the calendar before setting other appointments. It’s equally important to understand the organization in which you work. Know the protocol of communication and follow it.
10. Don’t stop learning. John Wooden, Harry S. Truman and Earl Weaver said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” In our industry, most leaders have college degrees to prepare them for work in this field. Conferences, seminars and webinars are helpful for continuing education. They keep us up to date with new techniques and methods.
Remember these items and remember them for a long time.
David Waddell is a Lecturer of Sport and Recreation Administration at the University of Mississippi.