Thursday, October 30, 2014

Personal Responsbility in Action

On Monday, I wrote a lengthy post about being an adult and how that relates to personal responsibility. It's been quite popular and has had several reads and shares. I know that I take a narrow view of responsibility and adulthood, but I was reminded why this is the case on Monday evening. When I wrote that piece, little did I know that I would have to put my "money where my mouth is" so to speak.

On Monday evening, I was to confer the First Degree in Freemasonry in my Lodge as the Worshipful Master. What does that mean to the average person? That I needed to perform about 45 minutes of memorized speaking for a brand new Brother joining the Fraternity. I would be his first exposure to Freemasonry and how I performed would stay with him for the rest of his life.

Prior to my performance, we had some other degree work to do. I participated in the work in another position, waiting my turn to take center stage. As we did this work, I found myself feeling increasingly un-well. Before Lodge, I had rushed home and then headed back out to visit "Dad" Dave Berry while he recovers from surgery. I failed to have dinner and I was paying the price in the form of some very bad stomach cramps. I had made a decision to skip dinner and it was my turn to face the consequence of that decision. I needed to take responsibility for my choices.

As I returned to my chair in between Degrees, I pondered what to do. I thought about asking one of the other members to do the Degree and excuse myself. I though about trying to get through half and then perhaps switch out. Then I remembered my blog post. What would switching out solve? It might relieve me in the short term, but what did it say about me as a Brother? As an officer? As a leader? It said that if I didn't feel up to the task, I'd just quit and make someone else do it. That's not me. I refuse to quit.

When it was my time to do the Degree, I manned up. I took my station. I powered through. I was in a pretty decent amount of pain, but I managed. It was uncomfortable to say the least. I know that I skipped some parts and missed a few words, but I made the performance sound sharp. I did the best job I could and tried to make the candidate feel welcome. As I finished the degree, I openly asked the Brothers for their forgiveness of my mistakes, stating that I wasn't feeling well. Several members came up to me and congratulated me on doing a fine job. They said that they didn't even notice I wasn't well and that knowing I was feeling bad made the degree all that much more impressive. I didn't offer my admission as an excuse for a less than adequate performance. Rather, it was meant as a heartfelt acknowledgement that I wasn't on my game and that they should expect more of out of me. Thankfully, that's exactly how my Brothers took it and they supported me (even as I quickly left for home.)

I'm proud that I got through that Degree in the condition I was in. But, I'm more proud that I had managed to live up to my own ideals and musings. I had taken personal responsibility for my actions. I didn't shirk my duties or discover a way out. I dealt with the discomfort as best as I could and performed under the circumstances. I was responsible to myself, to my Lodge, to my Brothers, and to the newest member I had just conferred the work on.

That was an adult decision.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, October 27, 2014

What does it mean to be an adult?

When we are young, the only thing we want to be is older. We want to be 16 to drive. We want to be 18 (an adult by the law's standards.) We want to be 21 so we can drink alcohol. But, is that what really makes us an adult? The ability to drive a car or live to a certain age does not an adult make. Every person goes through a phase in their teens and twenties when they think they are an adult and making adult decisions. I know I did.

We all have those moments where it suddenly feels like you're an adult. Perhaps it was when you signed the loan paperwork to go to college or when you graduate and receive your degree. Maybe it was when you sent in your paperwork and registered for the Draft. Or, perhaps it was when you had ice cream and cookies for breakfast for the first and time no one yelled at you. Whether funny or not, these are the experiences that make us all feel like adults and they all have one thing in common - responsibility (yes, even the ice cream.)

Being an adult has nothing to do with having fun or being independent. Being an adult means one thing - taking on and understanding responsibility. When you sign loan paperwork, you're agreeing to repay thousands of dollars on a schedule in a timely manner. You're now responsible to the bank. When you filled out that draft card, you took on the duty of defending your country if need be and suddenly became responsible to Uncle Sam. That ice cream you had, well, you decided what to put into your body, and you'll be responsible for that later when health problems plague you.

Why am I thinking about this? In one week, I'm going to take on one of the biggest responsibilities of my life - signing my first mortgage and owning my first home. I'm now responsible to many, many, other people. I now have to think about how my actions affect my ability to pay the bank for the next 30 years. I need to keep my home maintained and become a responsible member of my neighborhood and community. That's what being an adult means - being responsible and dependable.

However, there is another aspect to this equation which may not be quickly apparent; the concept of personal responsibility. When you take on these duties of life, you also accept that you can and will be held accountable for the decisions you make. By owning a home, I know that I'm responsible for certain maintenance duties and taxes. When I became an officer in my Lodge, I knew that I had agreed to attend meetings, perform ritual, and help lead my Brothers. It no longer mattered if I felt like I needed to go to Lodge. My desire to attend ritual practice was no longer my choice. I had taken on the responsibility of doing so and it was now my responsibility to be there.

Of course, there is always a way out of responsibilities - quitting. You can quit making your loan payments at any time. You can quit taking care of your home at any time. You can quit eating ice cream at any time. But, what ramifications does that have? In the case of the ice cream,  probably pretty positive ones. In the case of the loan payments and the home, very negative. You can always quit anything - you just have to be willing to deal with the consequences of doing so. But, at the end of the day, what does quitting say about you? What does it say about your ability to be responsible and make good decisions? Does it show that you are an adult? That's what you have to contemplate.

Personal responsibility - you know you're truly an adult when you start acting with this idea in mind.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Tribute to a Fallen Advisor

"Dad" Matt Wills
Today's post comes from "Dad" Matt Wills, Chapter Advisor of Crusade Chapter in Scranton, PA. Earlier this week, we posted a write up regarding the memorial tree that was planted in memory of "Dad" Garfield Beynon, who was an Advisor for Crusade Chapter for several decades. During that dedication, "Dad" Wills offered the following eulogy, in memory of "Dad" Beynon:

"Dad" Beynon never missed a beat,;always getting in on the action, whether it being the mediator to a disagreement of the Advisors and members or wanting to join in on the action in order for him to get his two cents in - no matter what.

It didn’t matter what he was asked of or for, he was always willing, no matter how far out of reach it seemed to be.  He never turned a person, a member, or a brother away - always lending that helping hand, and giving everyone he came in contact with the satisfaction and comfort of always knowing he was there if you needed him. 

So many people would remember his uncanny ability of always being able to tell someone where they could go could go and how to get there, in just a few words, and if you were unsure he would probably map it out for you. His DeMolay boys were "Dad" Beynon’s family, life, passion, and one of life’s prized possessions. When it came to DeMolay it seemed as nothing else mattered.
"Dad" Garfield Beynon

He was so very well known in PA DeMolay, having received so many honors and distinctions; but one sticks out as the most re-lived memory; so much so that no matter how many times we would tell the story, he would always get that deep down laugh and he would have tears in his eyes.  It was the 2000 PA DeMolay Convention, in Camp Hill.  "Dad" Labagh spent quite a few minutes speaking of the many attributes, and qualities "Dad" Beynon had given to DeMolay in his 31 years as an advisor.  After "Dad" Labagh finished speaking about the person who was nominated for the 2000 Advisor of the Year and recipient of Guild of the Leather Apron, he requested that they come to the podium.  Unbeknownst to Dad Labagh, "Dad" Beynon was fast asleep at the banquet table and snoring. Having been getting yelled at to get his attention, we were able to wake him up. He was a bit confused as to why were we yelling at him and all these people were standing looking at us and clapping, as "Dad" Dubeck was yelling Tom wants you at the podium.  Once he arrived at the podium, he was bewildered as to what he did or why he was standing at a podium with it only being him and "Dad" Labagh, as 200 members, and advisors were standing and applauding him. The table that the members and advisors sat at for that dinner and every other dinner was always the furthest one from the podium, unfortunately in this cases he found himself taking the longest walk and not knowing where he was going or why.

"Dad" Beynon will always be remembered for being able to catch himself a quick power nap. He always as he sat down the off switch would kick in.  So, I say to my friend, and to my Brother, "...and until we meet again," in your own frequently quoted wording “we’ll catch ya”.   

Monday, October 20, 2014

Remembering "Dad" Garfield Beynon

Over this past weekend, PA DeMolay played host to its annual Flag Football Tournament at Patton Campus. As usual, the event was well attended and filled with good, quality, sportsman-like competition. Yet, even as the young men played hard on the field, they took a moment to remember someone who could not be with them.

"Dad" Garfield Beynon, who was an Advisor for Crusade Chapter in Scranton, PA, died in a tragic automobile accident last December on his way home from PA DeMolay's annual Grand Master's Class. "Dad" Beynon was a fixture of not only Crusade Chapter, but also PA DeMolay. To honor his memory, Crusade Chapter talked with the PMYF office about dedicating a tree in honor of "Dad" Beynon on Patton Campus, in Elizabethtown, where he spent many a weekend over the last 30+ years.

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, members and friends of PA DeMolay and Crusade Chapter gathered around a new tree, to honor the memory of "Dad" Beynon. The Master Councilor, the Junior Councilor (who is also "Dad" Beynon's grandson), and the Chapter Advisor of Crusade Chapter all spoke about the impact he had before placing the first shovel of dirt around the base of the tree, which will stand as a fitting reminder of the impact this man had on all who came in contact with him.

Thank you to everyone who helped remember "Dad" Beynon - we know his tree will grow strong and loom large, just like his work with the young men.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Long Delayed Thank You

Earlier this week, I was packing up some boxes in my basement in anticipation of moving. The task seemed pretty menial at the time. I was digging through old photos, discarding items I no longer used, and generally creating order out of chaos. In one of the boxes, I found a stash of office supplies that used to be at my desk when I was in high school and college. It contained pencils, pens, a hole punch, etc. At the bottom of the pile, I discovered a small green box and recalled that it contained something unusual.

You see, in this box, was an honest to goodness fountain pen. That's right - one of those "old timey" writing instruments that were primarily used before the invention of the ball point pen. My memory having been appropriately jogged, I started remembering where the pen had come from. Then it struck me. I must have been 11 or 12 years old and the pen was a gift from an older couple my parents showed dogs with. I used to visit them and assist them with caring for their Pulis (a rare canine breed from Hungary.)

I decided to take the pen into the office and see if I could get it working. After a few minutes of cleaning out the ink and attaching a new inkwell, the pen was working smoothly and I was off and writing. Let me just say, there is nothing quite like signing your name with a fountain pen! Now that the instrument was back and working, I was curious about the value. I did a quick internet search and was flabbergasted. The pen, which I then held, was no ordinary writing utensil. It was a Cross brand pen with a 14k nib (the part that the ink flows to which touches the paper.) Little did I know, this pen was a very expensive gift to a very unappreciative "tweenage" me.

Now knowing the value of what I was given, and quite frankly, appreciating it a lot more, I called up my folks and asked if they still knew the couple who had given me the pen (as I hadn't talked to them in years.) They were    elderly and my parents hadn't seen them in quite some time. I took to the internet and tried to do some searching, but sadly, came up fruitless. So, to Bobbi and Bernie Silverman, if you ever happen to come across this blog post, please know just how incredibly thankful I am; not only for the pen, but for the life lessons you taught me.

As usual, you are probably saying to yourself "Wow, cool story, but what does this have to do with DeMolay?" As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm reminded just how ungrateful we generally can be. I know that I'm guilty of that trait at times. It's important to take time to say thank you to those that assist your life. Whether those persons be your parents (the first Precept, Filial Love), your Advisors and mentors (the third Precept, Courtesy), or your friends (the fourth Precept, Comradeship), we all need to find time to be more appreciative of those around us.

In that spirit, I have a thank you card to write (with my new pen, of course!)

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tips for Being an Expert Public Speaker

While looking for something to Blog about today, I came across an excellent infographic that can help all of us become better public speakers. Credit goes to where I found the image. Use that link to see a zoomed in version!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony


Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Throwback Thursday Post

Generally, I'm not big on the "Throwback Thursday" type of postings. But, in anticipation of an upcoming move, I stumbled across a cache of old DeMolay pictures I had tossed into a box in my basement. I gathered them and realized there were some real gems in there, so I just had to share some with you today. I've tried to keep the pictures to ones where you'd recognize someone other than myself.

But, first, for those that might be curious, here is my term plan as Master Councilor of my Chapter, Erie, in 2002. Notice, it was written on a Word Processor (a fancy typewriter) as I didn't have a reliable printer at home at the time.

That was a busy six months, for sure, as I was a Freshman in college to boot! Now, on with the photos!
From the first CLUE event at Patton campus. From Left to Right you see "Dad" Chris Fry - then Deputy State Master Councilor, now Chairman of Elizabethtown Chapter; T. David Slugocki, then State Junior Councilor; "Dad" Steve Prazenica, then State Senior Councilor, now a Past State Master Councilor; "Dad" Brent Richards portraying the Butler; "Dad" Jim Ray portraying Mr. Green; "Mom" Yolanda Weider portraying Mrs. White ("Mom" Weider has since passed away.)' "Mom" Donna Brown portraying Mrs. Peacock.

To prove things never change, this is Bro. Steve Prazenica preparing for his election speech at Convention 2002 in Reading, PA.

"Dad" Justin Killian, PSMC, at DI Sessions in Denver, CO, circa 2004..

"Dad" Dave Berry, Executive Secretary, at DeMolay International Sessions in 2004.

Myself and "Dad" Richard Fitzsimmons, PDDGM, at DeMolay International Sessions in 2004.

"Dad" Dave Berry at the 2004 DeMolay International Session banquet in Denver, CO.

Another 2004 DI Banquet Photo. From left to right "Dad" Chris "Tex" Tecklenburg, Secretary of the Valley of Reading, AASR; "Dad" Ray Gottschall, Chairman of Reading Chapter; "Dad" Jim Ray, Deputy Executive Officer.

Another 2004 DI Banquet Photo. From left to right "Dad" Randy Knapp, Deputy Executive Officer; "Dad" Rick Freedman, Deputy Executive Officer (with mustache!)

My corps of officers when I was Master Councilor. Familiar faces would include "Dad" Zack Panitzke, Director of the Key Man Conference and my first line signer, on the top right hand side in the back; and "Dad" Jake Palo directly in front of and below him.

Justin Killian, John Wendell Haney (then International Congress Secretary) and myself at the DeMolay International Banquet in 2004 in Denver, CO.

Convention 2004 Installation. From left to right, Justin Killian, myself, Justin Dunmire, David Labagh

Another photo to prove things don't change - Grand Lodge Banquet in 2004 in Pittsburgh, PA, handing out lapel pins!

This was taken at Family First Sports Complex in Erie when Elizabethtown Chapter came for a visit circa 2004. From left to right we find Nick Chaudoin (Elizabethtown); myself; Shawn Vulatic of Elizabethtown; and in front is TJ Barton of Erie.

The next two are priceless! "Dad" Peter Brusoe, then International Master Councilor, presenting me with my patent as an Honorary Past International Master Councilor at DI Sessions in Denver, CO, in 2004.

"Dad" Brusoe and I at the banquet at the same session.

This photo shows "Dad" Zack Panitzke (in the blue shirt) at Patton Campus playing Risk with his father (in the yellow shirt), and Ben Babb (black shirt on the left) and Jordan Heynoski (grey shirt.) This is circa 2002.

I'm taking a bit of personal editorial license here. This is me with my grandmothers the day I was installed as Master Councilor. Both drove over an hour and a half to attend my installation and it was the only time they ever saw me do anything in DeMolay. They have both since passed away.

This is one sleepy "Dad" Panitzke in the van on the way home from CLUE in Elizabethtown.

... and one more of a young "Dad" Pantizke and Justin Killian in 2002 at Convention in Reading.
So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed!
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Monday, October 6, 2014

What is Servant Leadership?

In DeMolay, we often talk about the idea of servant leadership. It's a style of leadership that I have attempted to adopt as I have taken on roles in other Masonic organizations. It's served me well, but I recently began to ponder where it came from and its true definition.

According to Wikipedia, the idea of servant leadership has existed from time immemorial. From the Tao Te Ching, to the Gospel of Mark, to the doctrines of Islam, the ideas of servant leadership have been a major part of movements for thousands of years. However, the term "servant leadership" was coined in 1970 by Robert Greenleaf, a management executive, in his essay "The Servant as Leader." In it, Greenleaf wrote:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“

Greenleaf's paper ignited the management community and his new style of leadership became quite popular. Others would go on to research his idea and later the 10 Principles of Servant Leadership were established. They are as follows:
  • Listening: A servant leader puts the emphasis upon listening effectively to others.
  • Empathy: A servant leader needs to understand others' feelings and perspectives.
  • Healing: A servant leader helps foster each person's emotional and spiritual health and wholeness.
  • Awareness: A servant leader understands his or her own values and feelings, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Persuasion: A servant leader influences others through their persuasiveness.
  • Conceptualization: A servant leader needs to integrate present realities and future possibilities.
  • Foresight: A servant leader needs to have a well developed sense of intuition about how the past, present, and future are connected.
  • Stewardship: A servant leader is a steward who holds an organization's resources in trust for the greater good.
  • Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is responsible for serving the need of others.
  • Building community: A servant leader is to help create a sense of community among people.
These are great principles to put into effect when you are leading a DeMolay Chapter. They serve as sort of a "road map" of how a leader should behave.

Now, how can you apply these ideas in your life to become a better servant leader?

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

Thursday, October 2, 2014

DeMolay - 700 Years Later

I'm still out on the road, but I have another awesome video to share with you. Check out this clip, which is a digital tour of the last seven years of Jacques DeMolay's life. I found it fascinating and it made the story of Jacques DeMolay seem much more real.

Thanks to DeMolay International for this great piece!

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony