Leadership Lesson: Don't Let Your Mouth Write a Check Your Butt Can't Cash
As Master of our lodge, I really wanted to add a few new members to our lodge this year. I don't know why, and I hadn't planned it, but during my second meeting as Master, I looked down at my calendar and noted a blood drive coming up. We hold them several times a year. There are few things that creep me out more than needles, and the idea of giving blood. I've had some bad experiences. In fact, there are few events I don't show up to help at our lodge, but I've avoided the blood-drive Saturday's like the plague. I did go to one. I lasted ten minutes, hiding out in the kitchen, then ran out the door like a little girl before any of the vampires could grab me, as everyone laughed. It's shameful. My mother (and editor) has even become a regular donor at my lodge's blood drives.
So for whatever reason, I saw that blood drive on the calendar and got this brilliant idea that seemed golden in that moment, and said during open lodge, that I'd give a pint of blood for every new petition during my tenure as Master. I was thinking it wouldn't happen. Actually, I wasn't thinking at all, or I'd have never given my brothers an opportunity to "needle" me back after "needling" them for the last five years. What comes around goes around eventually. The very next meeting, to my shock and surprise (and terror), we had a petition. It was actually suggested that my Brothers would be easy on me. I wouldn't be required to give blood as we went along, but as the flood of petitions come in, our Secretary would keep track, and then at the end of the year, I'd just go in and give a gallon or two all at once and get it over with. That's very funny, but it doesn't work that way. They must think I'm dumber than I look. I'm starting to get the feeling they don't like me that much.
We voted on the petition Wednesday, nice young man, and nephew our Senior Warden. He passed, and the very next night, Thursday night, he received his first degree. Here we go again. We're going to start rolling again. I can feel it coming. I'm just happy I'll be able to attend Our Grand Lodge Convocation one last time in October . . . and I'm been invited to go visit a couple lodges next week I haven't been to before. I'm preparing myself for the November blood drive, when I become the first blood drive fatality.
Of course, I'm only kidding. The directive of Freemasonry is to make good men better. And there is actually one thing I've always been more afraid of than needles. It was public speaking. I'm not good at it, and the mere idea of doing it makes me a nervous wreck, but since I've published my books, I've been asked to do it often. I write a lot better than I speak. I do get a little better at it each time, and a little less nervous about it. In another ten years or so, I might even get as good as the speaker we invited to lodge Wednesday night. A brother, and professor of history, and chairman of Our Grand Lodge's Leadership Committee.
When I got started in Freemasonry, I didn't like the idea of having to stand up and do ritual. Recite word for word ritual that hasn't changed much in 300 years. It's a beautiful tradition to watch, but I couldn't see myself doing it. Never thought I'd go through the chairs. Instead, I decided right in the beginning to sit along the sidelines, and work behind the scenes and write. I can do that! There was no way I was going to take a chair. That didn't work out that well. Our lodge put me right in a damned chair the meeting after I was raised. And of course, I had no idea at all that my book that I was thinking about then, and later wrote, would get popular, and I'd be asked to do the very thing I was trying to avoid by writing. I never planned on writing two, let alone a third I'm working on now. People wanted me to talk about the books! That never really crossed my mind. I figured I'd sell fifty copies to my mom (Christmas gifts for family and friends), and donate five or six to the local libaries, and that would be about it. Scratch one off the bucket list--published a book. Done!
So if I can go from the Chaplain of our lodge five years ago, that couldn't manage to spit the two prayers out during opening and closing, to a guy that can open and close the lodge as Master, can speak to some very big rooms, throwing up only occasionally before and sometimes after, giving a pint a blood should be a piece of cake. Bring it on. I'm going to do it. I hope we do as well at my lodge as our neighboring lodge did last year. Actually, I'd like to do one more. Let's do eleven this year--what is that, a half gallon?
Oh, wait . . . how many pints are in a quart?