We started this session’s Apprenticeship Search with the same plan as last year. Introduce one Apprenticeship Challenge at a time, each with a note to read and a skill to practice to help Eagles find, pitch and land a world changing apprenticeship.
Almost immediately the plan began to unravel. Veteran Eagles who had mastered the Apprenticeship Challenge last year, and who all year long had been cataloging apprenticeships that fit their gifts, flow experiences and opportunities, wanted to skip ahead and pitch for apprenticeships immediately. Some were quite talented and offered well targeted and compelling pitches.
Unfortunately, this led to less experienced Eagles believing they too could launch an Apprenticeship pitch, without doing all the upfront work. The Acton brand would be at risk if Eagles began pelting potential employers with poorly worded emails.
This led to a morning launch on the importance of process:
Would you build a bridge, “on the fly,” just winging it? would you be willing to be the first person to drive across the bridge that had no blueprint?
Why do you need processes? Is it to prove to others that you know what you are doing? To have a record that you followed careful procedures, in case something goes terribly wrong? As a beginner, to learn the steps? As a master, to lay steppingstones to inspire and equip the next generation?
The Eagles weren’t buying it. Many thought the Apprenticeship processes were stilted and unnatural. Plus, a set of procedures for bridges made sense, because it was a matter of life and death; apprenticeships weren’t as important. Even an attempt to paint apprenticeships as a bridge to anew life fell flat.
For some Eagles, moving forward without practice was almost certain to fail; but requiring Eagles to use a process just didn’t seem like the Acton way. Yet there was great risk in a laissez faire approach that could damage the community’s reputation.
Finally, a reasonable compromise emerged:
1. Eagles could either opt completely in or completely out of the Apprenticeship Process.
2. Any Eagle opting out would not be able to mention the Acton name in an email, phone call or in person pitch.
3. If an Eagle elected to opt out of the Apprenticeship Process, he or she would need a parent’s approval.
Choice and consequences; freedom and responsibility. Processes only when you think you need them. The right to fail. They’ll be some hard lessons from this, but the world hopefully will have fewer failed bridges in the long run.