Boys and Men

Learning to Shoot at the Oxbow

I had the opportunity to watch a couple episodes of TV show The Undercover Boss where Executives of large companies leave their corner offices and go undercover as entry level trainees to learn about the inner workings of their business and experience the impact of some of their decisions on their operations.  I enjoy business, love to analyze and learn about the personalities and unique operation strategies that make successful businesses.  My kids give me a hard time because I like shows like World’s Greatest Factories.  So I was intrigued by The Undercover Boss, but in the couple episodes that I had the opportunity to watch what stood out to me was the ineptness of the top executives.  How in the world could these guys actually be leading these successful companies?  I watched the episode with the Subway Executive that had never made a sandwich and was completely lost in trying to keep up with the tasks and pace of his Sandwich Artists.  The Norwegian Cruise Executive appeared to be uncomfortable with mechanical labor, absolutely could not dance, and totally fell short on socially engaging the guests as well as his employee trainer. 

 When I was a kid my dad purposely exposed me to many experiences.  He took me hunting and fishing with his friends and customers to teach me how to use a gun and clean a fish.  There were also some occasions where I learned to mix with a tougher crowd.  I remember playing cards with some oilfield roughnecks at a deer camp in south Texas.  The language was rough, the stories were rough, and their behavior was rough.  But, I learned to fit in and even win some money.  My dad encouraged me to try many sports.  I had to go to dance class and dress up for special events.  We went to professional sporting events and we went to a few plays and operas.  He taught me the importance of a nice pair of shoes and a nice belt.  Why did he do this?  He wanted me to have these experiences so that I could be comfortable in many situations and with different people.  In my career, I lead a plastic manufacturing business and I have the privilege to interact with many people and business situations.  In any given week I may attend a high society charity event or more often work side by side with some of America’s greatest craftsman getting our hands greasy.  I may be with a vendor on the golf course or in the woods hunting with a customer.  What I saw in these Executives in Undercover Boss were people that may be gifted in a narrow area, but lacked someone in their life to expose them to a breadth of life experiences.  Our boys need to be exposed to many areas and have the opportunity to choose the area that they can develop their talents.  Our boys need to gain the confidence in themselves and in the circumstances they will find themselves later in life.  Our boys need interaction with other men. Mostly men they can look up to, men who model a Christ like example and can be an inspiration and encouragement to them, but also men that are a little rough around the edges. If you have boys I encourage you to consider the experiences your boy needs to be exposed to and be purposeful in finding opportunities to give them those experiences.  If you are dad or a single mom that is not able or comfortable in some of these areas, find someone in your community, a good Boy Scout troop, or another man in your church that would include your son.

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