In preparation for a MM degree I was rehearsing my small part which, in the lecture, explains the steps on the Master’s carpet. I began to think about the line that explains in our youth we should “…occupy our minds in the attainment of useful knowledge.” The explanation then continues to direct us to use this knowledge when reaching manhood in practicing the tenets of Masonry, so that in age, “…we may enjoy the happy reflection consequent on a well-spent life…”
On the surface, this divides our work as Masons into three distinct parts, and one could say, “OK, I learn as an Entered Apprentice, then use what I learned as a Fellowcraft and then when I’m a Master Mason I can sit back and enjoy myself.” This naïve reasoning ignores the concept Freemasony is a learning system of morality and behavior that contemplates a Mason must be a continual student.
So, if we are to be in a constant state of knowledge acquisition, then it should follow that our mindset should always be one of an Entered Apprentice – a learner.
There is a term in Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, says the following about the beginner’s mind:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
As a Masonic leader, if you assume an attitude of a beginner and believe something can be learned from everyone you encounter, you begin to experience the power of other positive leadership qualities.
You will find yourself:
- Practicing Humility – My title means nothing and my Brothers are my equals
- Listening – I must listen to understand. If I am listening, I am learning
- Building Relationships – As I listen I begin to know more about my Brothers and how I can help them become better men
- Being a Servant – Your focus changes from looking inward to looking outward
- Remaining Teachable – You will look for ways to gather more and more knowledge
As an Entered Apprentice we were all placed in a particular location in the lodge room to begin our Masonic life. We must daily continue to build from there.
What will you learn today?
Have a Great Masonic Day!
A recent article on the website Farnam Street, made the distinction between those who seem to be hugely successful and suggest that all the rest, who are amateurs, struggle.
The blog post lists a number of differences and, as normal, I began to think if these differences apply to Masons. I think they do and I’ll highlight three.
- Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.
Masons – When raised to a Master Mason, were you led to believe this achievement is the pinnacle of Masonry? Or did a lodge culture exist that stressed your Masonic journey had just begun?
- Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
Masons – Was your goal when joining Masonry to begin an improvement process or was it just to become a Mason?
- Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in games.
Masons – Do you attend lodge meetings just for the fellowship or are you there to absorb knowledge and understanding for the purpose of improving your life?
- Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.
Masons – Do you only think about and apply the tools and lessons of Masonry while in lodge or are do you strive to use them as you attend to your “normal vocation?”
If you would like to see the whole list here is the link: https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2017/08/amateurs-professionals/
Are you an amateur or a professional Mason? Take some time and think about it.
Have a Great Masonic Day!
A couple of years ago I was a member of three different teams and each was struggling because of the following attitudes.
- Ego – Each had individuals involved who have, or continue to have, an over-inflated opinion of themselves. This has caused these individuals to be poor team members because they were continually attempting to control the actions of the team from a position of superiority. This attitude of superiority caused some team members to quit.
Lesson learned: If a person tells you how important they are, they are probably not that important.
- All talk, no action – John Wooden once said, “Don’t tell me what you can do, show me.” On one team a member was continually offering to complete a needed task because they claimed they were experienced in this area. They may have been but did not demonstrate it by action.
Lesson learned: If a person tells you much they can do and then doesn’t do it, they probably can’t do it as well as they say they can.
- Ignoring credible information – Have you ever presented well-researched, factual information only to have it shot down because it conflicts with someone’s un-researched opinion? This is the ego thing again; “that’s not right because it makes me look bad!”
Lesson learned: If a person dismisses your documented information it’s because they are too lazy to do their own. Also internally they fear you are right and they are wrong.
Pick your team members carefully, they will make or break you.
Have a Great Masonic Day!
Do you ever think the brothers in your lodge are confused about why your lodge exists? If so maybe it’s because a clear, compelling vision has not been created, communicated and understood by all the brothers.
“A vision is perhaps best understood as a dream of the future. It is where you define what is important to the organization and hope that it is important enough to others to inspire them to join and to participate.”
Now, why is that important? There are several good answers to that question.
- A good vision statement brings people together in a common effort to realize a commonly desired future
- It gives hope for a better future
- It inspires people to realize their dreams through positive action together
- It provides the basis for the organizational planning process because it defines the destination
So many times the leaders of organizations assume everyone knows the vision. These same leaders are then surprised to learn that there may be many versions of the organizational vision. It may be that is was never created or created and never communicated; so everyone used their own.
Don’t assume everyone in your lodge has the same vision and is headed in the same direction. If you are a leader, you should give direction and that direction should come from a clear, agreed upon vision.
Have a Great Masonic Day!
There comes a time in every effort that seemingly has been on track and progressing that momentum stalls and sometimes is lost. The little successes that were once celebrated and served as motivation cease and are replaced with setbacks.
The setbacks may not huge but are enough to cause a leader to say to himself, “why am I doing this?” Once self-doubt creeps into an effort then it can have a snowball effect and if a leader does nothing to remove it, he loses sight of his goals and sometimes just quits; either for a short while or all together.
Pastor Gordon MacDonald in his book Ordering Your Private World, calls rest “a time of looking backward.” He says we should reflect on our work and ask these questions:
What does my work mean?
For whom did I do this work?
How well was the work done?
Why did I do this?
What results did I expect?
What did I receive?
Leaders should always be asking these questions and if necessary “take a rest” to make sure they are answered.
Reflection should be a part of a leader’s daily routine. It allows you to evaluate and if necessary refocus or change your direction. It can be uplifting, motivational and rewarding; as well as the source of new ideas.
Reflect and have a Great Masonic Day!