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Monday, March 17, 2014

Commander-elect

Since my election as commander of the Bellingham Sail and Power Squadron (BSPS) at the squadron's annual election meeting in January, I have been working nearly full time to organize my Bridge and the new Executive Committee. That has included planning and running an Operations Training Day, accompanying the team to a District 16 Operations meeting in Federal Way where members of the teams from the other 16 squadrons in Washington and Alaska met to learn how to run their squadrons as presented by the district's leadership.

Endless e-mails, phone calls, breakfast meetings have continued with members of my team, especially my Executive Officer who is a god-send when it comes to her knowledge of how the system works. Her husband is a past commander and together they have a much deeper background with the squadron than I.

One of the traditions of our squadron is that the in-coming commander is in charge of the Change of Watch event, or COW.  Though I have been a member of the BSPS Bridge for the past 3 years, each year at COW time I have been out of town and unable to attend. That fact has seriously complicated my ability to organize this year's event. However, with the help of so many volunteers who do the decorating, mail out the invitations, etc. the event is coming together.

Finally, on the 29th of March, at NorthWood Hall in Bellingham, my team and I will become the leaders of the squadron. I have mixed feelings about being in charge of the 170 plus members of this organization. I asked for it. I certainly didn't hesitate when asked to become the Executive Officer last year knowing full well that it traditionally leads to the command position the following year.

But I have never commanded anything larger than a classroom of 25-30 5th and 6th graders. Now I am responsible for making decisions that influence 170 adults and the future of a well-known, highly respected community organization. Scary!

Still, it has so far been an incredible learning experience. I am slowly gaining in confidence and knowledge yet I try hard to be conscious that my every decision be tempered with an understanding that those that are most impacted by those decisions see me making those decisions sensitively and thoughtfully, not haphazardly and without concern for their opinions. In other words, building a consensus.

I'm writing a speech for the 29th that lays out my goals for the squadron for the coming year. My leadership team (Bridge) already knows my goals. That night the rest of the membership will know it. I have rarely agonized over anything before so much as what I want to say and how I want to say it. I understand that it will set the tone for our year. Add to that the fact that the entire District 16 Bridge is coming (something that apparently has never happened before) and you might have some idea the stress I'm feeling to get it right.

I know, I know, Michael, you are taking this whole thing way too seriously! Yeah, I suppose I am, but I am determined to do a great job this year; to be remembered as one of the best squadron commanders in BSPS recent history. I want us to attain our goals and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

I see why so many joke about not being able to wait until they receive that past commander's burgee presented at the end of a commander's year of service. Still, with all the stress I am enjoying the experience and looking forward to the possibilities.

Stay tuned.