Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii

Yesterday morning, dosed to the eyeballs to mask the worst effects of my cold, I went to speak to a group of Girl Scouts in Kailua. A frighteningly long time ago, I was a Girl Guide myself (the British equivalent) and I used to love the challenge of working for badges and learning new skills.

I especially loved Guide Camp, although it usually seemed to rain and our campsite was invariably full of cowpats. It was just fun to be out of doors and living under canvas, foraging for firewood and feeling close to nature.

I eventually earned enough badges across a broad spectrum of disciplines to become a Queen’s Guide, the highest award in the British Guides. Looking back, it looks like I’ve always been into setting a goal and working hard to make it happen…

My talk yesterday was based on the Girl Scout mission: “Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.” It may have taken 25 years longer than expected, but I’d like to think that the Girl Guides set me on the path towards achieving those objectives, and I think that the Atlantic experience was another step in the same direction.

It struck me when I read the Scout mission that it neatly sums up the internal qualities that are needed to fulfill the external goal of making a positive impact on the world. In my ‘old’ life, I felt I lacked all three qualities of courage, confidence and character, so my ability to make the world a better place was very limited. I was very duty-driven and always tried to do the right thing, but I simply didn’t have the inner resources. Once I took some time out to focus on myself and to develop those resources, I hugely increased my potential to (hopefully) be of service to others.

So I especially like it that the mission statement puts the inner qualities first, followed by the outwards manifestation of them – in my experience, that is the right way round.

P.S. Thanks to all who have emailed or commented welcoming me to Hawaii – and for the offers of entertainment, hospitality, etc. I would love to get to see everybody but this reconnaissance week is going to be just too short. However once I’ve arrived here PROPERLY – by rowboat – I plan to spend Jan-Mar 2009 in the islands, and look forward to getting to know the place and the people better then.

[photo: with the Girl Scouts. I am wearing a lei of flowers – the traditional Hawaiian gift of welcome]

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