A couple of weeks ago I introduced the theme of "Fighting Spirit" to the club members. As I proceeded with the theme, I first asked the members to come up the first thing that entered their mind when I asked the question :
What is the Opposite of Fighting Spirit?
They were all good sports and quick as a jiffy our scribe wrote their first thoughts onto the whiteboard, and all contributions were welcome, no matter if they did not connect with the question, the purpose of this exercise was to get a cross section of thoughts and this was not intended to illicit a "right answer".
Then I proceeded with this list to define what for me is the opposite of Fighting Spirit. The answer I gave was Fighting Mentality.
The way I differentiated between the two was that fighting spirit was all that was required to overcome what the group listed down as the opposite of fighting spirit. As a club we needed that kind of fighting spirit but NOT a fighting mentality.
If we are called into service or we are resisting oppression, then a fighting mentality is what is required, but at no point should attending a student club relate to fighting mentality. I did offer examples of fighting mentality as it has occurred in the educational system, but declared that this is the hostile environment that is created when constituencies battle education for resources, but which actually amounts to political battles and infighting.
As club we need fighting spirit.
That fighting spirit also has a millennial spirit, because our fighting spirit has to be fit for 21st Century leadership. The fighting spirit of the 20th Century took place with the counter-culture of the 60's - and eventually with shootings of Ohio students and the 1968 student riots, fighting spirit began to take a back seat to fighting mentality. If fighting spirit was the voice of 60's philosophers like Camus and Debord, fighting mentality the backdrop to the Vietnam War. That was a decade when fighting mentality was needed in Civil Rights activism - so fighting mentality was appropriate for the 20th Century. Before the 60's generation, fighting mentality was a part of what Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation", the young kids and adults that fought for freedom during World War II. The 20th Century was a century of war that engulfed the citizens of the world - which does not come close to what millennial's have experienced in the 21st Century even though wars have continued to be fought around the world.
Fighting spirit should also be centered around the values of the club, from which the club culture will emerge. The brainstorm list is not what is important here, but the clubs values as they emerge are and those values I am advocating need to be centered around 21st Century Leadership, Network Intelligence and Member Voice. The cohort of students that are with us at present tend to work at the operational and administrative level, and do not relate to values based approach, but over the coming year, we expect to gain members for who can view the education of the club through a more abstractive level of creating meaning. The prior year was transitional and I remained in the background giving space for the young executive to find their feet and not simply be directed by experience. There is always surprisingly good things that come out of that openness. Having been through that transitional year, this year we need to identify with our fighting spirit and I look forward to the club growing and progressing.