Earning An A+

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

― C. JoyBell C.

Of course, the Girl Scout Cookie Season is not just about contributing sweetly to the American obesity epidemic:

When girls participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, they get more than life-changing experiences and adventure. They also develop essential life skills—goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—all while soaring in confidence and practicing leadership the Girl Scout way to lift one another up and change the world, together.

-From the Girl Scout website article, About Girl Scout Cookies


We watched some of our girls last year become increasingly outspoken and confident. It was so good to see them grow, and even better knowing that the power points I was regurgetating off the Girl Scout website actually held water.

I should know firsthand. I was one of those girls.

Okay, so let me start out with the beginning of last school year. I had finally figured out how I factored into the volunteer equation.

Not as a leader. But one hell of a good follower.

I had never been that “A-type” personality. I admired those women who could step in and organize everyone and everything. I was the one counting on them to tell me what to do, I needed people like them to keep me in line.

While not always sequitor in my follow-through (I am known for my “I Love Lucy” moments, often without the canned laughter), I made sure that what was asked of me was indeed followed through on. May not be pretty, but it always got done.

Ray: “You don’t buy things unless you are sure that you need them.”

Me: “But, then if you need them they are there. I can just return the others.”

Ray: “Total waste of time, Abby. Gas, money . . .”

Me: “But . . .”

Ray: “You don’t do things like that. Thank you, but I’ll just do it my way. The right way.

Hence the reason why I could never be a leader (in this case, not one of Ray’s followers, either). I have great ideas, just not always the most effective or efficient ways to achieve them. So I figured  out a great system: I give the leaders the ideas, they map them out, I help with acquisition of whatever materials and volunteer hours were needed as they tell me. Excellent event, excellent planning, excellent fun for all.

So into second-in-command position I proudly hustled into our first Girl Scout cookie season. Ready to go in the information meeting, I was smoothing out my notebook paper and absentmidedly clicking my pen when my Troop Leader, sitting next to me, leaned in.

“I’m so sorry to do this to you . . .but we had a few of our doctors called out, and now because we are short-staffed, I have to manage the whole floor . . .you think you can handle this? I’ll help you best I can, I just can’t head it.”

There it was. Suddenly, I was in charge.

How could I say no? This woman was off saving the world every day as a pediatric trauma doctor, and what was I, here? I had the time and resources to absolutely step in.

And, oh crap. Now I was in charge. So, it wasn’t going to be pretty.

I set out to basically not let anyone down. That was my goal. Just don’t F it up.

Instead, I ended up exceeding expectations. Holy Crap, yes I did.

Yes, I did organize our own cookie rally, and organize the group to go to the council and city ones, as well.

Yes, I did organize booth sales.

Yes, I did create a system to give all participating girls equal parts.

Yes, I did organize the on-campus girl sales with other troops.

Yes, I did all of the delivery.

Yes, I did subsequent weekly orders and regular pick-ups.

Yes, we did sell out our inventory without a single leftover box.

Yes, it’s amazing that at the end of it, I wasn’t totally dead. And neither was anyone else.

I also swore that I would hire a committee the following year.

Then, at the beginning of this year during our Fall sale season, something happened.

I brought on a friend to take over the Fall sales position. Which, in retrospect after the cookie madness, was a piece of cake. I was going to help walk her through it, and shadow her efforts, but basically leave her in charge.

When I saw her look of panic at the first meeting, though, I realized that something had happened to me. Suddenly, I was back in charge.

And it was all okay.

Taking over cookies for our troop taught me to take initiative to get results. To go above-and-beyond to make good things happen. And despite all the hard work, it was fun.

So, this year, I am embracing this new leader-person. I have this sense of calm going in, knowing I can do it.

Oh, no. Don’t fool yourself. I’m still getting my committee. But I’m confident that they can rely on my new leadership skills.

Thank You, Girl Scout Cookies. I’ll take S’more.

And my “A+.” I think I may have joined the ranks.

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