Gum Wrappers and Stewardship

At the end of every Boy Scout camp weekend, the leaders would line us up in a row at the edge of our campground.  We would march forward, picking up any items or litter left behind.  I remember picking up gum wrappers and stuff that was there before we arrived.  Why in the WORLD, do we need to pick up something we didn't even drop?  One of our leaders responded, "We leave things better than we found them."

My first lesson in Stewardship.

In what areas do you leave better than you found them?  How do you lean into your stewardship?  In your home?  At the office?  With your kids?

When I was a consultant, I remember walking through the office area with my client, the Vice President of Customer Service of a Fortune 500 company.  We were walking to our meeting, discussing how to navigate through some tough decisions – an entourage of 3-4 people following us through the cubicle area.  He stopped abruptly and picks up a gum wrapper off the floor, walks over to the nearby cubicle and throws it away.  I remembered picking up gum wrappers as a Boy Scout and I'm fascinated.   I ask, "why did you pick that up?"  He responded a company value was Flawless Execution….and that begins by having a spotless office area.  WOW!  He was living into company values!  They weren't just words printed on a laminated card.  Not only was I amazed that he picked it up and threw it away, but I was amazed that he even saw the gum wrapper in the first place!  Noticing Something and Doing Something is what stewardship is about, right? 

I believe when we are aware of something out of order, 'the universe' put it there for us to take ACTION!  As soon as we see that gum wrapper, we shouldn't just step over it, leaving it for someone else.  It's our responsibility to pick it up and leave the place better than we found it.  Are you with me?

So, let's take it a step further….

I was talking to a colleague of mine from the consulting company at which I worked for 28+ years.  Dave emphasized how important it was to create a place for young professionals to thrive professionally and personally for years to come.  One of the company's Core Values?  Stewardship.  He literally used the words, "I want to leave the place better than how I found it."  We talked about the importance of Stewardship and how that particular core value became our primary mission.

When you enter your organization or business or project, are you leaving it better than you found it?  Are you nurturing young professionals so they can grow into their roles, long after you're gone? 

Yea, the gum wrappers get bigger, don't they?

Ready to step it up more?

Do you have a big dream or ambition?  Something that needs to change in our world?  The fact you notice it and think about it, means you have some part in solving it!   YIKES!  That's a mighty big gum wrapper!  It's so much bigger than you!  You'll never succeed in solving it.  You might give up before lifting your little finger.  But you see, just as it was for my client, Flawless Execution is unattainable.  It's something you strive for.  And you begin by …… opening your awareness and then doing something simple …. Like picking up that first gum wrapper.

I was watching a YouTube of an incredible Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg.  Frustrated by the lack of action in Climate Control and her inability to do anything substantial about it as a kid, she skipped school on a Friday and went to the Swedish Parliament to protest.  She tried to get some of her friends to join her, but none others had the courage, so she went alone.  She committed to skip school every Friday to gain attention.  Other school children followed.  Last Friday, MILLIONS of children skipped school across the world, to protest inaction about climate control.  In just a few months, Greta created a social movement.  It all began with the courage to skip one day of school.  She believed in her values enough to pick up the gum wrapper. 

Want to get inspired in just 3 minutes?  Greta speaks to the UN!!   

I'm moved by Greta's action.  Not just moved internally, but I am MOVED into ACTION!!  That's what's needed!  Action.  Here's my Mission.  My world Vision.  My Declaration! 

I will create structures of authentic exchange, immediate and long-lasting, where wisdom is shared through 'a-ha' experiences, and we honor and respect sacred life on this planet, so our human species evolves."

If I don't do it, who will?  The universe gifted me with a huge mission.  Time to live into it! 

What's your mission?  Okay, so maybe it's not well articulated …. yet.  Maybe it's as powerful as raising your children with character.  Or maybe showing up to work today with a positive attitude.  Remember, it all starts with a simple gum wrapper.  Our world needs you.  We need your gift.  You are called.  Lean into your calling.

Notice Something and Do Something


Founder, Wisdom 4 Humanity


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