19th century writer, social commentator, and philosopher named William Hazlitt once said:
“Those who command themselves, command others.”
Now I cannot say for sure his intentions at the time or the context of this quote.
But I can say with certainty that I will take some liberties with it.
The term “command” has a few common usages and definitions to be sure.
But in terms of this proclamation today, I endeavor to consider command more so in terms of another definition:
“…to deserve or be able to get or receive.”
Perhaps what I hear then turns his meaning a little out of phase.
Because when it comes to Eagle Scouts, to be in command, is live a life from a position of strength.
To be strong enough to have or secure lifelong friendships. To earn respect and cultivate admiration. To overcome adversity and recognize opportunity.
But most importantly – strong enough to develop self-mastery.
Your true character in action.
So if you consider “command” in terms of self-mastery – then you are essentially talking about leadership.
Because once you can lead yourself, then others will want learn how you did it.
You will command their attention.
Promoting through you – the development of the very qualities others will want for themselves.
If I am in command of myself, then, I can teach.
And the getting or receiving I spoke of?
That will come from my giving.
There is a specific gravity to Mr. Hazlitt’s thoughts on the nature of command.
Something Matt also seems to understand.
He is a scholar.
An accomplished musician.
He is more than just adept at navigating his way down snow covered slopes.
And he is a young man who has personified commitment in the service of others.
By all accounts, someone in command of himself.
Now for as long as I have lived here, that Homestead sign in the front of the school has been, shall we say , “rustic”.
Given the stature of the school, the achievement that occurs there on a daily basis and the caliber of individuals that excel, graduate and go out to change the world – “rustic” is not something that commands the respect our school has earned.
“I wanted to do something that would really make a difference at Homestead. The sign was in disrepair and needed a lot of help, so over the summer I started planning the project,” said Matt in a feature story for the Highlander Online last year. *
Taking command of the situation, Matt decided that repainting the sign and maintaining the landscape around it would be the perfect opportunity to complete his Eagle Scout project. *
Furthermore, he saw it as a way to help out his fellow students in the National Honor Society. NHS students need to have at least 5 hours of large-group service, among other service hours, in order to fulfill the program’s requirements. By offering the project up for NHS volunteers, their contribution in effort could be applied to large-group service hours.*
In total, 37 volunteers participated in Matt’s Eagle project, either helping in 1 to 2 hour shifts or as long as they wanted to stay and be a part of the festivities. *
Armed with power sanders, paint brushes and rollers, paint, hedge trimmers, shovels, rakes, mulch and leaf blowers – Matt and his team took command of the opportunity, renovating the sign and sprucing up the shrubbery surrounding it as well.*
His project was completed back on October 11, 2015 – and each time I travel that route – it commands my attention.
Bright colors of red and white emblazoned on black jump out as you pass by the campus by foot, bike or car.*
“For most people, this sign is all that they see of Homestead as they go down Mequon Road”, Matt commented – then added:
“With the sign being renovated, they’ll have concrete evidence that the school itself is also going through vast improvements. I hope that the community is happy with how the sign turned out.”*
What he said next really says it all about him:
“I’ll only be able to think of it highly if they all do, too.”*
Spoken with the humility of a true leader.
Someone with a keen appreciation for living a life with the proper perspective and priorities in alignment with other’s needs.
By connecting generations and bridging diverse backgrounds in this meaningful fashion his project reflects that facet of his character.
No matter the season, any given weekend, we turn out young men like Matt.
Those in command of themselves first.
The men we can always count on.
That will forever honor an oath.
Those that will be at their best when things are their worst.
A man always prepared for a command performance.
- Special thanks to Cassie Shaurette – HHS 2016 for the thoughts, words and pictures of his Eagle Project – borrowed from her article found on the Highlander Online. Thank you Cassie !