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1:57 p.m. - August 14, 2006
A Retreat To Leadership
I don’t know if I feel like a leader, yet.

But I MAY be on my way.

This weekend was the retreat for the Montgomery County Leadership Academy. There are 22 of us going through classes every Friday until mid-November to grow, develop and nurture our leadership skills, in order to further our career and help the county and area that we live in.


It’s a pretty interesting group of folks in the class. There are two other people from the College here, some people who have various jobs in local factories, an engineer who has specialized in waste water management for industry, four people from area power companies, a policeman and a firefighter.

The only bad thing is that it was the week after our Arizona trip, and I had to leave Liz alone with the girls on Saturday night. But she’s doing better and I felt I could make the trip without any issues.

Friday night, we had a meet and greet and some opening words, along with a group picture. They had an open bar and free chicken wings, which is my kind of meet and greet. Saturday, we had to go to the Quality Inn in Lebanon for our retreat, and we would stay there until Sunday morning.

So after the meet and greet, I made a trip to a grocery store to get some wine, then when I got home, Liz said that we needed pull ups and milk, so one more trip out to Kroger’s I went. The weather was playing tricks on me, and I had started out wearing my sunglasses then pulled them off for a while.

Liz went to see “Talladega Nights” on Friday with the gals, so after the kidlets were put to bed I was baching it. I knew I had to wake up early to get to Lebanon by 8:30, but I got wrapped up in a baseball game that took 14 innings. And then, I wasn’t THAT tired so I started watching “The Aristocrats” and marveling on how creatively filthy the human mind could be.

Needless to say, I woke up later than I hoped to on Saturday. But I packed my bag and proceeded out the door.

Well, uh, not exactly. I realized that I forgot my toiletries when I got out to the car, so I dashed in to get my travel kit and plopped it in my bag. I then started to look for my sunglasses that I clip on to my glasses.

I couldn’t find them, and I searched high and low around the seats of my car, and I dashed inside again to see if they were in the kitchen. I picked up the case and shook it, but decided that I had to go if I wasn’t going to be late. They were going to have a continental breakfast, and you know, free food.

But then I realized that I needed gas, so I had to stop at a truck stop on the way. Of COURSE I was caught behind a truck that took 5 minutes to turn out of the parking lot because he was so laden and slow. Now I was in a bind. Fortunately, I could drive the road to Lebanon blindfolded, and I had some great tunes in the car (mostly the mix I wrote about over the weekend – it’s great to drive to). So I hustled my way there, parked, and found the room.

I walked in JUST AS they were getting started, and I was the last one to arrive. I did make a grand entrance, though, with a little pirouette and bow. Such a ham I am. But I still could eat a couple of Danishes and they had unlimited decaf, so I was a happy boy, indeed. A cheese Danish and coffee, the continental breakfast of leaders, yo.

We did a couple of interesting things in the morning, performing a skit that basically served as an introduction, and then studying famous leaders throughout history along with reflecting on when you, yourself, exhibited leadership. The story I told to my partner in that exercise seemed lame and shallow compared to his, since his involved volunteering Louisiana and mine involved leading conference calls.

Lunch was had, and I got to speak with one of my favorite professors at Wabash, and then talked to I, Engineer quite a bit about kids and wastewater and everything else. It seems her daughter became a Ms. Poopy Pants in the play area of McDonalds, and her husband had to deal with it. Thankfully, we are not at the “accident” stage with either kid, as Katie should be well past that and we know Kristin will be poopy pants at some point.

But I, Engineer had a point – she wondered if WE had pull ups when we were kids, or did we just have ‘express lane’ potty training. I honestly don’t know, though I know I was basically potty trained by 3, except for a couple of issues at nursery school I think I was good to go after that.

In the afternoon, we went on a ‘trust walk’ which is pretty standard fair for retreats (you know, you’re blindfolded and have to trust your partner, etc. etc.) and then we went through some historical exercises and talked about life changing events in your life outside of marriage and kids. I chose one that was personally a big deal to me, even though yet again it seemed trivial and inconsequential compared to a lot of them. But I was able to throw in a reference to The Strawberry Alarm Clock and my Close-And-Play, and when I can do that it’s a success no matter what!

Then we had an interesting exercise where we were to assume the role of one group of people and look through the issue in their eyes, no matter what our personal views on the subject were. I gave the presentation for our group and one of my colleagues kidded me on how I almost teared up at one point speaking about an abandoned building here in town.

Then we had dinner, and the only bummer of the weekend was the presentation after dinner. Now, yes, a lot of us were thinking about hitting the lounge in the hotel, but the speaker that was talking about the downtown area of Crawfordsville was just…blah. She had notecards, and basically jumbled up her presentation. Most everyone was looking through the shiny, pretty material instead of listening. Ah, well.

Within 30 minutes after that closing presentation, there were a dozen of us in the lounge, and 15 of the 22 actually arrived through the evening. The cop and I talked about some of my neighbors, which got me worried, and we all marveled that the fireman smoked like a chimney.

The lounge was supposed to close at 11, but by 10:45 a few of us had convinced the bartendress to stay open until midnight or so, since there still were a dozen of us there. But by midnight, I was tired and so was I, Engineer, so we left. Sadly, Mr. Weak-Bladder-After-He-Breaks-The-Seal had to stop in HER room to use the bathroom on the way to MY room. You know, that’s really an odd question to ask someone that you basically just met and you are both happily married.

From what I heard, the cop closed down the bar at 2:30 or so. Not closed it down in a bad way, but that’s when he left. So much for 11:00. But I tell you what, that IS leadership when you can convince a bartendress to stay open an extra 3 ½ hours!

The next day, after a good homestyle breakfast featuring a boatload of bacon (the food of the Gods, I am convinced), we went into our last exercise, which was on determining personality types and what to watch out for when you are dealing with others of another personality type.

Believe it, or not, but I am an extroverted, outgoing people-person with some dominant and some supportive traits. I am an “Inspirer”. Basically, that means I like to yak a lot and have fun. It fits.

With that, we went on our way back home. I think this will be a good class, and I know I’ll have a few more lunch buddies when all is said and done.

I was really vexed at myself for not finding my sunglasses. When I did my laundry on Sunday, I looked through all of the pockets of my khakis and shorts to see if I had left them in there. They weren’t in the place I normally keep them when they were home, and I checked my car this morning, again, before I went to work and they were nowhere.

For a lark, I picked up the case of my sunglasses, and well, you know what? They were in there. Of course.

Now I wonder how much of a leader I can be when I can’t even think to look at probably the most logical place to store my sunglasses when I can’t locate them.

Wait, don’t leaders have ‘people’ that keep track of that stuff for them, anyway?


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