Collision: The Lost Battle of Wills

Aug 8, 2019
By: Jerry A. Goodson
In: Amateur Radio

They say the pen is mightier than the sword.  I say words are a hammer.  When used skillfully, it can be used to build houses... or it can be used to bash in your skull.  

“The wise warrior avoids the battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Last week, events sparked a battle of wills between me and ARRL North Texas Section Manager Steven Lott Smith KG5VK.  Regrettably, the events snowballed into a battle that did damage to our section.  

Firing the First Shot

There's no point in re-hashing the entire chain of events.  They've already been posted in my blog entry:  Elected Section Manager to Dictator

That proverbial bell has been rung and I don't believe, at this point, it can be un-rung.  This isn't about re-trying all of the events that took place, this is about picking up all the pieces and moving on.

Steve made a mistake.  Putting myself in Steve's place, it would be easy for me, or anyone else, to make the same mistake.  Lord knows, I'm not perfect in any sense of the word.  

Steve took some right steps in his attempt to do what he believed to be the right thing... he reached out to a member of his cabinet and asked for their input before taking action.  Right or wrong, he didn't make his decision alone.  It is unfortunate that neither Steve nor the other section official had any knowledge or experience in dealing with the specific issue.  

The Breakdown in Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw

I have to accept full responsibility for the breakdown in communications between me and Steve.  I allowed my sensitivities to these actions, based on personal experience with a former section manager, to influence my immediate response to Steve in the email I drafted.  Words are like a hammer to me.  I have been gifted with the ability to use words to build greatness.  Conversely, I can use words to effectively destroy.  Upon reflection, I asked myself, rhetorically, if I used my words as a tool or as a weapon.

I weaponized my words in the very subject of the email I sent to Steve, "Have you lost your mind???"  I, instantly, put him on the defense, and essentially shut down any semblance of effective communications between us.  It was wrong of me, and I apologize to everyone who has now been caught up in this drama. 

I apologize to Section Manager Steven Lott Smith KG5VK, Section Emergency Coordinator Greg Evans K5GTX, and most importantly, to all my fellow members of the ARRL North Texas Section.

Common Passion

If there's one single thing that Steve and I share is passion for the amateur radio hobby and the promotion of the ARRL North Texas Section.  Steve and I have had disagreements on many trivial facets of how the section should be managed, but I've always supported his decision.  

Recall or Resignation

Starting a recall petition and calling for Steve to resign as section manager has been the topic of many phone calls I've had over the past several days. 

I reached out to Ken Mitchell KD2DW, and offered the consensus that he should replace Steve as Section Manager.  His response was  profound!

"I'll do what the membership wants, but ultimately, I don't think it would be good for the section."

Ken was Steve's opponent in the race for section manager.  Although Ken lost to Steve, he has met and worked with Steve quite extensively since he took office.  Ken and I spoke for about 45 minutes, and there was a lot of wisdom in what he said.

Repair, not Replace

I've come to realize Ken was right.  It would be better for the section if we could work through this issue with the section manager we elected.  In spite of one single error in judgement, Steve has been an outstanding section manager.  He has done and, I believe, will continue to do great things for the section.  

It's imperative that we don't let one single issue--be it this or any other--tear us down as a section.  

I do believe in accountability, and I had hoped my fellow members would have called for just that.  The unintended consequences of my action was the mob-rule mentality that one infraction warranted calls for Steve's resignation or starting a recall petition... that Steve be destroyed.  That was not my initial intention, but I am to blame for this incident snowballing to that point.

Again, I was wrong, and I apologize.


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