Monday, December 10, 2012

Appreciating the Imperfections

           One of the toughest things, in my opinion, about the year of service as a Minnesota FFA State Officer is chapter visits. We are asked to go into strange schools that we’ve never been to before to talk with members and students that we’ve never met under the supervision of advisors that we may or may not know.  Although it’s a challenge for me, I enjoy making connections with members, learning about the different Agricultural Education programs in our state, seeing the great activities that chapters are doing!

A few weeks ago I had three chapter visits scheduled over the course of two days.  I was scheduled to facilitate a session with the Alexandria 9th Grade Intro to Agriculture class Monday morning and speak with the chapter president, attend the Paynesville Chapter meeting that night to facilitate some games, and the next afternoon facilitate a session for a class at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School.  Ok, bring it on!

But, in the weeks and days leading up to the chapter visits, I started to feel the stress of creating just the right lesson plan for each visit.  I wanted so badly to show the students that FFA has something for everyone.  I worried that if I didn’t have the perfect workshop that I would be a failure, that I would be letting those students and advisors down. 

I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to put together the perfect workshop that couldn’t plan any workshop.  I sat there, staring at my computer, willing the blank Word document to magically be filled with the perfect workshop.  Luckily, I had a great resource at my disposal.  My mother.  She is an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor.  After a few hours of discussion with her, I finally had a workshop planned for my Alexandria and had decided that I would use the same one at Sauk Rapids-Rice.  But, as I turned on my little blue Saturn Monday morning, I was still nervous that my sessions weren’t going to be perfect.

Tuesday afternoon, on my drive back home from my visit with Sauk Rapids-Rice, I replayed the last two days through my head.   I replayed the session at Alexandria and saw that overall my session was well-liked, but also that there were parts that needed improvement.  Then, I saw my conversation with the Alexandria Chapter President and couldn’t help but smile at all the great things their chapter is doing, everything from an Ag career day, to Ag Olympics, to setting up a program to donate boxes of fruit to the food shelf during their fruit sale.  Then my mind wandered to the Paynesville chapter meeting.  I smiled when I thought about how the officers had recited Opening Ceremonies completely from memory with passion and used Parliamentary Procedure to run the meeting. I thought about the fun time after the meeting and how members enjoyed the games of trench ball and nachos.  I grimaced when I thought of how the two games that I had prepared had flopped.  But because the games had not turned out so well, I was able to have some very meaningful conversations with members.  Finally I thought about Sauk Rapids-Rice and how I was proud of how I had tweaked the session I had done at Alexandria to make it better. 

Then it hit me.  The imperfections in my sessions and plans for the chapter visits had actually opened doors for even better things to happen.  Sometimes they opened up a new discussion, or gave me the chance to connect with a member, or to make the session more relevant to the students.  I’ve always known that perfection is impossible to attain, but until that day, I never realized that the imperfections make room for other opportunities.
           The tag on my Chai Teabag sums it up nicely:

“Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.”
            Think of a task that you are being a perfectionist about.  What are the hidden opportunities in the imperfections?
Marjorie Schleper
Stationed by the Plow

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