Monday, November 12, 2012

DeMolay Taught Me to be a Loser

Today's post is another from a special guest. "Dad" Peter Brusoe is a Past International Master Councilor and is active with Nation's Capital DeMolay. He's a good friend of PA DeMolay and we're happy to share this article.

DeMolay has taught me many things. DeMolay ceremonies honed my public speaking skills to allow me to be able to speak extemporaneously in front of groups. DeMolay gave me preparation to run meetings in a professional manner, it also gave me some great life experiences.  One of the best things that it did was to learn how to lose, and to lose well. 

Before I joined DeMolay I had run for three offices. Student Council in 1st Grade (the cutest girl won) Student Council in fifth grade ( I lost, my opponent smeared me because my handwriting was messy and I wouldn't be able to take good notes at the student council meeting) and Marching Band Librarian (I won!).  How many times as a young person do you get to vote or run a campaign? Not often. Then I joined DeMolay and there were these elections every six months and I was given a tutorial in winning and losing elections.  

I ran for Master Councilor the first time and I lost to my good friend and DeMolay brother Patrick Filiberto. Something weird happened.  I think I was gracious in defeat. Pat did an AMAZING job as Master Councilor and we quickly became the best chapter in New York State.  Losing was a good lesson,  life went on, programs went on, everyone was still friendly and brotherly.  I remember there were still hurt feelings from those student council elections.  I thought that it was something unique to our chapter.

When I went to my first state convention, it was a three way competition for Deputy State Master Councilor.  It was suspenseful hearing the names read out loud.  Was it going to be our guy from the eastern part of the Empire State, or would it be one of the two guys from Western New York.  The guy from the east won, and the two guys from the West stood up.  I wondered if they were going to challenge the vote, or ask for a recount.  Rather they stood up and said they were yielding their votes to the guy who had won, and congratulated them and sat down.  No visible anger, no tears, it was a class act.  Perhaps it was because we were New Yorkers, and everyone knows that New Yorkers are the most polite people on the planet.

My first DeMolay International Congress in 2000 two guys were running for International Master Councilor and International Congress Secretary.  The roll call of votes was going through and my preferred candidate from Georgia did not get the votes.  I then saw him stand up at the end of the election and do the same thing that New Yorkers did.  That pretty much sealed it that it’s a DeMolay thing.  It’s truly a great example to live by.

Seeing these examples of people running, and what people do after gave me the confidence to run for offices.  In my non-DeMolay activities I have run for a number of offices, in part because running for DeMolay offices gave me the confidence to put my name out there for election, or in some cases appointment.  I have won or been appointed to my fair share of offices, but I have also lost a fair number as well.  When Gordon Bombay asked if Losing was funny, Les Averman famously said “Well, not at first, but once you get the hang of it.”  Losing never gets easier, but it’s how we respond to losing that matters. 

This past Tuesday, at the request of several of my neighbors, I put my name on the ballot for a local office.  After having served in a number of fraternal, community, church, building association, school, and social organizations I was making the big jump. Voters in my part of DC would see the names “Obama,” “Romney” and “Brusoe” all on the same ballot.  I shook hands, stood out in the cold, talked about issues from trees falling down, banning city use of pesticides, and zoning regulations.  

That night while I was at work refreshing the national exit polls and updating information on federal elections, I kept refreshing the local DC Board of Elections to see how many votes were by my name.  Early votes looked promising, the young working class votes looked really good, then the retired votes and the property owners started to come in and there was a huge separation.  The percentage of votes kept creeping closer to 100% and finally it hit 100% and there were not enough votes outstanding between my opponent and I.  I lost.  I opened up an email, drafted a quick note to my opponent asking if she was still awake, and could take my concession phone call, as well as thanking her, congratulating her and letting her know she has my full support.  She was gracious and congratulatory.  We sent out warm and appreciative emails thanking each other.

Would I have done that if I wasn’t in DeMolay? Probably not.  But DeMolay gave me the confidence and the example to lose, and when I lose, to lose well.

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