Five days of leadership
The main reason that I have been offline for the past week or so is that I participated as a facilitator at the Wooden Institute for Men of Principle on behalf of my college fraterntiy, Beta Theta Pi.
Now, I know that some of you are snickering about fraternities. And, there is no doubt that the Animal House image of fraternities has a kernel of truth to it. But, today's kids are different than the people I went to college with in the late 70s and early 80s. At that time, there was still a reverb from the anti-Vietnam War/Free Love/Drug Experimentation culture of the 70s. We were at the beginning of what has become a more conservative shift in the country, but there was still an expectation that 'boys will be boys', even at MIT fraternities.
Today, young men and women are more conservative, more academically oriented, and more independently minded when it comes to partying. Beta has tried to focus on the values that our fraternity was based on when founded in 1839. And, we've been public about those values since 1879. I'm not naive enough to think that today's kids don't party. But, I also believe that many of today's kids don't form all of their social relationships and base their values on partying.
I'm proud to say that my experience at the Institute for Men of Principle was extremely satisfying. I co-led a group of 11 men out of a total session of about 75. These guys were serious, thoughtful, fun, and dedicated. We had a blast, including all sorts of activities, community service projects, and discussions of improving their fraternity chapters. You get pretty close to people when you spend about 17 hours each day with them for five days...
I got a lot out of my college fraternity experience, beyond the social activities. I made great friends that I had a lot in common with. And, I got valuable experience in leadership roles as we ran our own show in our house. That's some of the best aspects of this experience, and it is as applicable today as it ever was. In fact, based on the men I met, they view this as a key part of a fulfilling college experience.
This experience was all consuming. It kept me from my email and other communications for the better part of a week, counting travel. So, if I have been slow in getting back to you, I apologize. I should be caught up by today.