Part of the Napoleonic road-building evolution of F3 has been devising its structure as it has grown.
Four months after F3 began, we decided to split the Mothership. As you might recall from earlier, this was a big moment for us and we thought a lot about it and planned very carefully, right down to picking the exact man we wanted to act as the Plant-Q for the Mothership II. He had been with us since 1/1/11 and rarely missed a Post. He was enthusiastic and smart. The other PAX liked and respected him. One AM we took him aside to give him the big news that he was to be the plant-Q of Mothership II and stood back so he could kiss our feet and tell us what a great opportunity this was. But that’s not quite the way it went down.
Instead, while we were explaining the whole Diminishing Returns to Fellowship thing to our Plant-Q, he was nodding away like it made perfect sense and he knew exactly where we were going, right up to the moment that we told him he was the man to see it through. Then, the nodding stopped and the head shaking started. It wasn’t long before he said, “You guys are nuts, I’m not doing that.” OK, not the reaction we expected. “Why not?” we asked.
“Weeeeeeeeellllllll . . . we got a great thing going here . . . don’t fix something that isn’t broken . . . maybe someday we could do that, but not now . . . I’m not the right guy for this . . . I’m not ready . . . how are we going to split the PAX up . . . what if nobody comes to the new Workout . . . Where are we going to do this . . . where does the white go when the snow melts . . . WhatIf, WhatIf, WhatIf . . . .?”
OK, so there was a little anxiety there we hadn’t expected. Now, less than three years later, this reaction from our Plant-Q seems very quaint. This same guy has not only started and Q’d a lot of Workouts, he’s convinced other men to do the same thing. Our reluctant Plant-Q has turned into a Q-machine. What happened? What changed? To explain it, we have to go back in time a little farther, to the point where we decided to plant the Mothership. At the time, we were going regularly to the Campos, where Gx was the indisputable leader. When he decided to close it off to new members, it took us a while to work up the guts to try to plant the Mothership. In truth, we had all the same questions and objections that our reluctant Plant-Q had for us. In retrospect, we realized that we saw Gx as the leader (because he was) and could not visualize ourselves in that role. And, after the Mothership got rolling, that is apparently the way our reluctant Plant-Q saw us. We were the leaders, not him. He could not see himself in that role because we were dominating the leadership of the Mothership.
That gave us a dilemma to solve. We knew that we were not going to be able to plant new Workouts without Qs willing to do it, and that we were not going to have willing Qs unless we changed the way they saw themselves within the structure of the organization. They had to see themselves as leaders before they would be willing to lead. Therefore, it was clear that the strong centralized leadership model that we inherited from the Campos inhibited growth. Yet, we were not sure what the Mothership (or any Workout) would look like without centralized leadership. If not that, then what? At the time, we were reading a book called The Starfish and the Spider. It was about the growth and structure of leaderless organizations. A Spider organization was the typical feudal model of pyramidical top-down leadership. On top was the king and on the bottom were the serfs. It was called a Spider because (like any arachnid) it would die if you cut off its head. A Spider had most of the power and authority centered in one leader, the head. That was a pretty good description of the Campos, and apparently the Mothership, if our reluctant Plant-Q was any barometer. In contrast, a Starfish organization had no head or powerful centralized leadership at the top of a pyramid. It was flat, comprised primarily of appendages that were connected to a small center that did little more than hold them together. Each appendage was sufficiently self-supporting that it could be lopped off without dying. In fact, if an appendage were cut off, it would grow into a Starfish of its own, and the old Starfish would grow a new appendage to replace the missing one. The key to the Starfish structure was for the leaders in the center to stay small and push the power, resources, and authority out to the leaders in the appendages. The book gave a diverse range of examples of Starfish organizations, everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda, all of them successful both in growing and overcoming challenges in a way that a Spider simply could not. The Campos, by choice, was a Spider. There is nothing wrong with that because the Campos was not interested in growing. That structure works very well for the Campos. But F3 is different. Growth is a major part of the Mission. If we were going to succeed in planting, serving, and growing the Mothership II (and every Workout that came after it) we needed each group to be a self-sustaining Starfish appendage. Logically, that meant that the Q of each new Workout had to be a self-sustaining leader, with all the authority and resources he needed for his group to flourish. Each Workout Q had to be big, and the center of the Starfish (what we came to call F3Nation) had to be small. We needed to create a culture and a system for transforming PAX into Qs. Since it didn’t exist, we had no choice but to build it.
From The Pages of Freed To Lead: F3 and the Unshackling of the Modern-day Warrior (pp. 76-79).
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
- “We all get report cards in many different ways, but the real excitement of what you’re doing is in the doing of it. It’s not what you’re gonna get in the end–it’s not the final curtain–it’s really in the doing it, and loving what you’re doing.”
- “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
- “Success at the highest level comes down to one question: Can you decide that your happiness can come from someone else’s success?”
Leaders Leading Leaders
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.
Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued, “well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. Persevere.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Love unconditionally and forgive frequently.