My sentiments exactly.
The way this kind of culture is created is to Lead by Example. When students see their student leaders giving it their all, they will jump in. When student leaders see their mentors giving it their all, they will jump in.
I’ve thought a lot about topics like this through the last couple of years. I’ve learned that I have a Pace-setting leadership style, and I suspect that many FIRST mentors are the same. Its always about driving to do better, do more, and do it more efficiently. After a few years, I noticed this had a huge impact on Team 1511, and one I wasn’t expecting. By our 5th year, we had 2 RCA’s, 2 EI’s and a CMP RAS & a CMP Judges Award under our belt (as well as a host of other awards), yet we didn’t stop to celebrate. Every year, the plane rides home from Atlanta were all talk of Lessons learned and how we could do better next year. I realized that we rarely stopped to celebrate, and 5 years in, our students knew nothing different from 1511… they didn’t know that the amount we did in comparison to 80% of other teams was insane… they didnt know that teams out there didnt host a pre-ship, offseason, and numerous FLL events… they just knew that those are things we did, and we were always striving to do them better, and to do more.
The same attitude trickled to the competitions as well. Sure many kids would goof off at night, but the drivers were segregated to a single room, and asked to go to bed early. Everyone had jobs and shifts first thing in the morning. Students actually VOLUNTEERED to be part of the “early group” to go wait in line to go get seats.
Did all this happen immediately? Happen our first year? No. It took a little bit of enforcement from the start. The teachers & coordinated schedules and the mentors helped me set the attitude for the events. But we lead by example. I was always the first one up, doing wake up calls/knocking on doors, and I was the last one sitting in the alliance selection meeting at 1am… often held in my hotel room. I would never expect anything of anyone that I wouldn’t offer to do myself.
So at least in 1511’s case, the attitude came from the top. I set the pace, and the team just ran full speed behind me when we first started… The scariest thing I learned somewhere around year 3 is that students were “afraid to disappoint” me… I’m not 100% sure how this happened in the first place, but I think its about respect & caring. They all knew I respected them, and they all knew I cared about them, in some cases more than anyone had ever shown them before. I didnt treat them the way many of their teachers & parents did, I treated them as responsible & intelligent people. I expected more out of them than most anyone ever had. So I got the same respect back.
My favorite quote (I’m sure people get sick of hearing me say this now…) epitomizes everything I want to be, and want everyone around me to be…
Excellence - is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.
If you (& you leaders) really and truly hold yourself and your team to this, I think you will get the attitude you are looking for.