Stay tuned to this page over the next 10 days as Kevin Dugan, Fields of Growth founder & director will be blogging from Kingston where the game of lacrosse has gained some serious steam in the past two months. Dugan and Jamaica Lacrosse are preparing to welcome 14 volunteers over the next 10 days as Fields of Growth is hosting a lacrosse camp in the Kingston City trash dump community of Riverton.
Read on for Dugan’s pre-trip reflection on the Fields of Growth Global Leadership Experience philosophy that focuses on revolving education, service and growing the game.
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all lived in the same time period (about 400 BC) and where all connected through a succession of mentorship and a restless desire for knowledge. Seeking the truth in love has been the call of the world’s greatest thinkers. But above all things these Greek philosophers call us to, “Know thyself.”
Most writers on leadership list self-awareness and clarity of purpose among the most integral components of long-term success. Having a healthy understanding of your own personal strengths and weaknesses is important. However, the deeper questions of personal leadership, purpose and meaning are rooted in what you are passionate about; your dreams, your deepest desires and the things you most purely love about life. The things that you fall in love with will define your life.
As Pedro Arrupe so beautifully puts it, “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
The advice of nearly all great thinkers, philosophers and spiritual guides suggests that seeking the purest and most passionate longings of your heart in truth and love is the purpose of life.
According to contemplative philosopher and theologian Thomas Merton, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”
Merton points out that love is very much a shared and interactive human experience. His opinion supports the leadership ethic of interdependence, noted by many leadership experts including the late Stephen Covey. Relational empathy and the ability to love and communicate is a fundamental of leadership.
When asked about finding one’s purpose in life, Merton suggests, “To be a saint, be yourself.” There is only one thing for anybody to become in life – their true self. This might sound overly simplistic, but sadly most people don’t live out their personal legends. The expectations, opinions and judgments of society often frighten people from following the natural desires of their heart.
So what does this have to do with you trip to Jamaica?
If you thought you were just coming to Jamaica to do service and coach a little lacrosse then you were wrong. It is our desire at Fields of Growth that you have a personally enriching experience as well. We want you to grow and develop as a globally conscious, servant leader with big dreams.
There are a lot of quotes on service and being others centered, but in the spirit of Jamaican culture, we will use a lesser know Bob Marley quote, “If I’m not about helping people then I don’t want my life.” The world’s most effective leaders have almost always taken up a cause that was bigger then themselves.
You are already showing the attributes of selfless global leadership – you are taking action to coach, serve and learn in and effort to help others while sharing your passions.
In taking action to be on this trip you are showing a degree of proactive charitable boldness – you are showing that you desire to be used as a tool for good in the world. The beauty of service and charitable goodness is that there is a long-term enlightened self-interest. We live in an interdependent world and we cannot help another without in fact helping ourselves.
Long before Gandhi coined the popular “be the change you want to see in the world” quote, Socrates taught his pupils “Let him who would move the world, first move himself.”
Answering the call to action with virtue is the true challenge of leadership in today’s confusing world. Dreams demand action. Justice demands action. Leadership demands action.
In the spirit of Jamaican culture and in honor of a great servant leader, I would like to point out Haile Selassie’s (Selassie is the former Emperor of Ethiopia and a hero to many Jamaicans) teachings on the need for action. “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
This experience you are participating in is about service to others, but it is also about your own personal education and development in action. You will be educated though service, conversations and experiential learning. The children we work with will be educated through the love, time and instruction they receive from you.
When you arrive in Riverton and you see the extreme poverty the children are living in you might think to yourself, “Dear God where and how do I even begin to make a difference?”
Do not come in thinking you are going to change the world in a week; Come in ready to live for those relationships that are being born right in front of you each moment.
Diogenes Laertius, the biographer of the great Greek philosophers said, “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.”
Nelson Mandela echoed similar truths that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world… There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
This is why education is such an important component of the Fields of Growth mission, both your education and the education of the youth we aim to serve.
Your education is part of our mission. Through service and experiential learning we want you to return home with an inspired, bold confidence to be a force for good in the world.
Additionally, the education of the children we serve will be the key that unlocks the doors of opportunity in their lives. And as you know as a student-athlete (or former student-athlete) that education can take place in the formal setting of a classroom or out on the athletic field.
So why sports? According to Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders and voices for justice in recent history, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.”
The goal, the purpose and the mission of this trip is rooted in three key beliefs;
1. Education and the search for truth is the best way to build a more just, prosperous and peaceful world.
2. Love for your God, your neighbor and your life is most naturally manifested in sharing the joy of the things you most passionately love.
3. Sport can be used as one of the most powerful vehicles for good on earth, particularly in theformation of children.
This trip will be a success if there is a humble exchange of education and the joy of sport. Through this we hope to obtain a revolving social impact that touches and enriches the lives of those we encounter, while helping you learn more about the world and yourself. This combination of international experiential learning, service and personal development will enable you to grow as a globally minded young leader.
We are going to be confronted with great sadness and get joy at the same time. There is nothing that can prepare you for the suffering you will see in the Kingston City trash dump community of Riverton. Conversely, there is no way to describe the joy you will experience in serving and loving the children there.
I look forward to sharing this experience with you. It has become the great joy and purpose of my life to see bright, selfless young leaders like you grow and develop through these experiences.