I have a confession to make. You may hate me afterwards, but I can’t keep it inside any longer. (Actually, I can, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll pretend I couldn’t.)
I’m an FRG Leader.
There. I said it! I’m an FRG Leader and I’m proud of it!
Do you hate me yet? C’mon. You know you just threw up in your mouth a little. FRGs have the reputation of being only slightly less catty than an old school popularity contest between Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton. (Ah, those were the days.)
I knew this before I went in, but I wanted to be involved with the Guard and learn more about the military piece of my husband’s life, so the summer before his second deployment, I signed on as co-leader of the unit’s FRG. I really wanted the job of Communication Chair because I thought (and rightly so) that I’d be better at things like writing emails and newsletters and establishing social media venues than I would be at organizing and leading meetings.
My co-leader had been doing a phenomenal job at running an FRG that was based out of the middle of the state, but there was a need to branch out. The soldiers in T’s unit, as is the case in all the Maine Guard units, are spread throughout the state. I know it doesn’t look like it on the map, but Maine is actually a pretty big state. It’s about an eight-hour drive from top to bottom. Or you could probably snowmobile it in five, if you didn’t freeze first.
So it was that I was handed the job of creating an FRG in the southern part of Maine. We started having meetings the November before the unit left for Afghanistan and we had our last the November before they came home. When a unit is in non-deployed status, FRGs are required to meet only quarterly. Frankly, it’s a struggle to meet that often. There just isn’t much interest in forming bonds when the soldiers are at home.
You have to understand: this is the Guard. It’s not an Army base. This has both pros and cons for families. One pro is that Guard families already have friends and families that live around them. Most of them didn’t just move to the area so they aren’t necessarily looking for new friends or support networks. They’re in a place they’ve lived all their lives. The con to this is that when the soldiers do deploy, there is quite possibly no one within an hour’s drive that has any idea what it is they’re going through. It’s during this time they yearn for and need those connections. So that’s when the FRG is most active.
Ideally, we’d form these bonds before deployment and maintain them afterwards, but it’s tough, and not only because of distance (though that certainly is a major factor). Our unit in particular tends to have a high turnover rate. We also have a lot of very young soldiers that don’t have spouses. During a deployment, it’s their parents that need information and support. I had multiple meetings where I had in attendance: wives, parents, grandparents and young children. Talk about a diverse group. It wasn’t easy to plan meetings that would be relevant and meaningful to everyone, which is one reason I tried to keep things strictly informational.
Another reason, apparently, is that I’m a Gold/Green personality, according to Shipley Communication’s 4 Lenses Assessment.
This weekend, my husband and I attended the FRG State Conference. The first session on Saturday morning was “4 Lenses Training”, which turned out to be absolutely fascinating. At least for an analytical person like me.
What are the 4 Lenses? Well, according to Shipley Communication’s website:
The 4 Lenses™ assessment is a proven personality assessment which helps organizations build a solid understanding of the innate talent and potential of its individuals. The 4-Lenses™ instrument was created from the research of the Myers Briggs’ Personality Type Indicator, as well as David Keirsey’s modifications to this instrument in his book, Please Understand Me.
Basically, it’s a personality test that helps you understand and relate to others in a group, whether that group be work, family or the FRG. And it was really helpful. I won’t give away the full profiles of each of the four personality colors or how the test works in case you ever get a chance to do it (which I would highly recommend). I’ll just tell you each color’s assigned “word”:
I was a Gold/Green and that’s pretty accurate. I’m OCD about order and structure. I’m organized and I make lists constantly. That’s the Gold. I’m also independent and a perfectionist. That’s the Green.
My husband was an alpha Green. So much so that his test numbers almost didn’t leave room for any other color, which explains a lot. He was literally off the charts. But he was sort of a Green/Orange-Gold, if that’s possible.
The Blue didn’t show up until third on mine and last on my husband’s test. Blues are sort of the nurturers who value relationships most. That’s not to say that we don’t value relationships, but in a work situation, we are very business-like and less social.
We decided that if we ever have a Blue child, we are going to mess that kid up royally. It would go something like this:
“Look, I know you’re only eight months old, but you’ve got to get over this teething thing. Suck it up and don’t be such a baby!’
Hmph. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that’s the right attitude for an FRG Leader, either. Maybe I should look into that communication position again.
What about you? Have you ever taken the 4-Lenses Assessment? What was your color?