Brian Childers MDI Contributor
Since the Legacy Magazine came calling for a story of my legacy, I’ve been trying to figure out how to position this humbly. For those who know me also know that humility isn’t my go-to strength or what I’m most known for. And likely that is some compensation for feelings of inadequacy from childhood (no good at ball sports, etc.). But I digress.
At the November 2020 meeting of The Dog Soldiers, I was taken completely by surprise (again). One of the new traditions that has been initiated by our current RC, Tom Thurmond, is the presenting of the Dog Soldiers Tip of the Spear Award for “exceptional service to the men.” The first was issued to local legend, Sun Dancer, Shaman and WaterWalker during Death March II, Britt Williams. The second, posthumously, to Howard Hoge – creator of the Hoge method of delegation and leader of Death March I.
So, TT (Thurmond) intones that the tradition is going to be continued this night. I’m wondering who is going to get one next …
They spoke of long tradition, service, etc…
And then came the announcement.
What?!?!? Me?? Cool!!!
It just so happens that I was one of the original 13 men in Atlanta who took a stand in ’93 or ’94 that we were going to have a Sterling Men’s Division in Atlanta. By G_D we’d no longer be considered “wastelands” and fed everything on the end of a stick. Also, in fact, I was the Enrollment Manager (See last month’s piece on the Four Balls of Enrollment) when we made full Division in ’95.
I have served in many posts and been fortunate to learn from the fathering I received, teaching me that the best part of me is my heart – something I willingly offer and reveal to my men. Finally, I have just about learned to not be embarrassed about feeling and showing emotion. Actually, I have said, “It’s difficult to be crying and lying at the same time.” Men trust me because I have earned their trust. One of the highest honors I can think of is to be respected by men I respect. I am now sure that is the case. And, I have a fair amount of bling to show for it.
It is fair and accurate to say that I have intentionally caused some legacy here in Atlanta.
Among other jobs, leading Point Teams, acting Division Coordinator, Regional Coordinator, Board Rep and Membership Manager (seeing to it that men get what they need). If it needed doing, I’ve done some of it. A particular love of mine has been supporting in multiple ways the “Boy’s Rites of Passage” – now known as Young Men’s Ultimate Adventure – which is the baby of one of my ’91 SMW graduate buds and fellow Apache Jay Zipperman. While I was serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors, I noticed that there were five or six of these week-long or weekend type initiations for young men that were operating separately, without any coordination or cooperation. I suggested that they explore the idea of collaborating and sharing lesson, tips, potholes, etc. They took it on and today, 14-15 years later, they still exist and collaborate as the “Kingmakers.” I believe I can claim that as part of my legacy.
One of my favorite things to do while serving in leadership roles has been to “promote” men into roles and positions of leadership and watch them come alive and rise to the challenge and opportunity. I will never forget the man I had asked to serve as Finance Manager while I was DC, telling me during my completion that no one had ever trusted him enough to be a Finance Manager before. We both shed a couple of tears during that moment. As Tim Goodnow, former DC of the Dog Soldiers, was completing he gave me a bicycle pump for a present because he said I was always pumping men up. I hope I always live into that!
To quote Howard Hoge: “I love this shit!” I have no children – even after three marriages – so my legacy will be what I have done and who I have been to contribute to others: men and women and children and dogs.
More legacy: Not long after I was elected as the SE Region Board Representative (thanks Jack Brown!), I had to travel to Toronto to teach an IT Governance class. It so happened that my course dates coincided with the Division Meeting, and I had planned to attend the meeting, introduce myself and drop some Board Rep wisdom or at least ask what I could do for these men.
Turns out that was not at all what was going to happen.
One of the Toronto men – apparently one of the men that dug the well in that part of MDI/Sterling territory – was nearing the very end of his life. Maybe he had a couple of weeks left to live. I think his name was Murtaugh – and I may be mistaken, please forgive me. They held the “Division meeting” in something like a church basement with a stage in the front. This man was seated in a chair on the stage, and people were approaching him one or two at a time and telling him who he was for them. They were laughing and crying and hugging and saying goodbye. There may have been 400 people present that night – men and women from the community.
I sat my happy SE Board Rep ass down in the back and watched in awe and learned – about LEGACY. I’m sure I shed a tear or two; I never met the man nor said a board-related word that night.
Last little anecdote: At one point in my MDI career I was in the top “inner circle” of Stan Snow, Geoff Tomlinson, Ben Estes and me. (Some would call it a “cabal” but I intend no negative inference.) I made the “mistake” of admitting to them that I was a “whore for acknowledgement.” So, from then on, I got NO acknowledgment from them. I think half of that was to bust my balls and the other half was to support me in my quest to overcome the need for outside approval.
Man love. The best legacy of all.