Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a professional development session entitled, “It’s Great Leadership, Charlie Brown”. We were encouraged to think about the leadership styles of the Peanuts characters and my big take away was about Charlie Brown and his losing style. Was he a loser? In my mind, Chuck wasn’t a loser, he was a character who seemed to lose graciously but kept on going. Being from a family of 8, I actually could identify with Charlie Brown. We didn’t get everything we wanted.
Reading the comic as a child I’m not sure if I felt bad for Charlie Brown. But I do remember thinking that Lucy was a big bully and mean about the football. Not allowing Charlie Brown to ever kick the ball wasn’t funny to me. But as an adult my thoughts are in a different place, like why did Charlie Brown keep expecting Lucy to help him succeed with the football? Why didn’t he go find someone else to help him succeed?
If I had to choose between Lucy or Charlie Brown, I’d pick Charlie Brown. He didn’t have to be first or a winner. And that’s OK! Charlie Brown would have been a great 4-H’er because he always showed up, didn’t put himself first, took care of his dog, and was a quiet leader. He was a team player (even though he got a bag of rocks instead of candy).
Do we set kids up to succeed or to fail? Do we let them fail? And if the answer is yes, are we teaching them how to cope with the failure? Yes, the answer is yes. In 4-H we do teach children how to gracefully cope with not winning a blue ribbon or being the club officer. We recognize that just belonging to a parish 4-H program is important. For example we encourage youth to run for club officer knowing that not everyone can be a club officer. We make it known that we appreciate kids stepping up to leadership, teach them that not everyone will win, and provide other important roles that kids can play in 4-H programming.
4-H has a way of setting everyone up for success because the club encourages responsibility and caring. 4-H agents empower children to prepare themselves through project work; giving a speech, dressing for success, grooming a livestock animal, leading by example, and welcoming everyone. I’m sure that we have a Bossy Lucy and a Messy Pigpen, but we have more Charlie Brown’s in our groups than any of the other Peanuts characters.
Charlie Brown showed up over and over for the baseball games. He never got to kick the football, his kite was always eaten by a tree, and he never had a date with the Little Red Haired girl. But he did have a loyal set of friends he could count on in his world. He never gave up on his friends or his goals. Also, in spite of failure over and over again, Charlie Brown picked himself up and kept going. We can count on Charlie Brown. And that makes him a good leader.
Thank you Charles Schultz for your vivid imagination and wonderful characters that we all love and can identify with in our world.