Put Forth Your Best

In January of 1919 Juliette Low sailed off to visit Sir Robert and Lady Baden-Powell, intent on learning how Girl Guides were contributing to their country now that World War 1 had come to an end.  Before she left, she wrote a New Year’s message in the monthly newsletter from National Headquarters thanking Girl Scouts for their service and courage during the war years. She continued with an appeal to every Girl Scout to “brace up and strain every nerve to continue public service and help to make a newer and better world.” Beginning a new year, and in the new peaceful era, Juliette had three directives for the girls.

First: Stick to your studies. “Get wisdom,” said Juliette, “and withall get understanding.”  Let me translate for 2013: Look, kiddo, you have to finish that homework.

Second: Play fair. Get on a team and learn to play together, and “let not bitterness attend the result of a game whether you are victor or vanquished.”

Third: Make yourself strong. A Girl Scout, in Juliette’s view, should be an example of “womanly strength and fitness.” I don’t think she meant weight training, I think she meant strength of character. In other words, would you jump off a bridge if everyone else was doing it?

Great advice doesn’t go out of style, and as I was preparing to pass this on to my daughter, I had a little nagging reminder that I’m a Girl Scout, too. So I had to ask myself three little questions:

First: What am I learning? What do I want to learn in 2013? Can I see how I’ve developed a greater understanding in some area over the course of 2012?

Second: Am I getting along with the people at work, in my family, in my community? How am I getting along with girls in the movement? Am I fair? Gracious? A team player?

Third: How will I take care of myself this year? What character-building endeavor should I begin? Do I have the healthy diet, adequate rest and exercise to be the example that Juliette expected of the girls?

One thing that I love about our movement is that it is good for everyone. It “rises within you,” as Juliette summarized in that article, “and inspires you to put forth your best.”  So let’s share the inspiration: What are your thoughts for the new year?