Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something
inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the
determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It’s a reasonable request,
from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the
thing – The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged
across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if
you have the guts to see it through.
Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make
Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can
share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or
anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the
same thing, it’s not exactly a shock.
I’m not trying to be cute with a bunch of reverse psychology. When I was 15,
there was nothing that anyone could have said to me that would have inspired
me to do something I didn’t want to do, especially a stranger with a TV show.
So I’m not going to assume you’re any different, or pretend that I have some
influence or insight that you haven’t already heard from a dozen other people
who actually know and care about you. I’ll just tell you straight up, that
doing something extraordinary can be very lonely, and most people simply
aren’t cut out for it. Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than
most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard. That’s
why the award is called “an accomplishment.”
Personally, and for whatever it’s worth, the best decisions I’ve made in my
own life, are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool.
Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, starring in the school play
when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle,
were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed
gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy
them. But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be
one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.
Whatever you decide to do Kelby, it’s important to remember that the decision
is yours. Not your Dad’s, not your friend’s, and not your Scoutmaster’s. And
you’ll own that decision for the rest of your life.
Good Luck, Mike Rowe