Friday, February 27, 2015

The Road Isn't Easy

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Road Isn't Easy
If you have read the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you know the journey to the Emerald City was less than perfect. From watching the movie, I had a vision of the yellow brick road as neatly paved and easy to travel. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In the book, the road was worn, covered with trees, and blocked by rivers, beasts and other barriers. Dorothy and her friends found difficulty traveling down its winding path. I have my own troubled path with the yellow brick road.

Yellow brick road from the "Return to Oz"
(Yellow brick road from the "Return to Oz"; photo credit Captive Wildwoman blog)
In 2002/2003, I proposed using movies to convey leadership concepts in a program called Leadership in Cinema (LinC)—a popular Leadership Toolbox item. One of the first lesson plans I created was for the movie the Wizard of Oz. I put a lot of thought and effort into creating a lesson plan I felt worked well for developing wildland fire leaders. However, when I submitted the lesson plan, the steward of the Leadership Toolbox had a differing opinion and denied my request. I was given little reason for the denial, but I had my theories: 1) The concept of using film to convey leadership lessons was relatively new—based primarily in academia. 2) My relationship with the steward was new; a foundation of trust yet to be established. 3) Children's movies are entertaining not educational (not that fables hadn't been effectively used for ages).

Introduction from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
L. Frank Baum, author of the book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," may very well have set the stage for the dilemma between the steward and me. Here is what Baum shared in the introduction of his book in 1900:
Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.
Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as "historical" in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer "wonder tales" in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident. 
Having this thought in mind, the story of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.
The Rest of the Story
Ironic that 100 years later, we would come full circle and find Baum's inspiration had become one of the top 10 movies used to develop leaders.

The lesson plan has never (wait for it) made it into the library. The steward, upon reaching his retirement gave me the approval to post about 3 years ago. Some twisted control issue kept me from posting it even when I became the steward of the program and had the authority to add it to the library.

Well, I recently turned 50 years old. The months before my birthday were a time of great discernment. Out of that time came a desire to complete unfinished projects (too many to count). I discovered I had been carrying burdens I didn't need to be carrying for far too long. It was time to lighten the load and travel a better road. My reluctance to post has only kept a good lesson from the very people that I claim to serve.

In the weeks before and after my special day, I downloaded Baum's book (free; now in the public domain), watched the remastered 1939 movie, revised the lesson plan, AND sent it to the new LinC steward for consideration in the library.

My Challenge to You
I lightened my load and challenge you to do the same. Is there something holding you back from reaching your full potential? Is the road you have chosen fit for travel? Will it take you where you need to, or should, go?

This is Part 1 of a two-part series. 

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About the Author:
Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.

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