Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's More About Growth

As the leaves begin to float to the ground and beautiful colors emerge, new opportunities for success seem to buzz around us. Success comes only by taking advantage of opportunities that come our way. It is not measured only by awards, but also by growth.
Throughout high school, I was involved in activities ranging from FFA to Key Club to drumline. I enjoyed each one because of the fun people and the challenges they provided. However, as you probably noticed, besides being a Knights fan, sports were not included in my series of extracurricular activities. If you have ever played sports of any kind with me, you have most likely discovered my lack of experience and coordination. If you haven’t had this great privilege, I can confidently describe my huge lack of athleticism. As a result, FFA and 4-H became the activities I found opportunities for success in. I discovered my pass
ion for agriculture, leadership and working with people through my experiences in 4-H and FFA.

In my sophomore year of high school, I received a call from the leader of the Minnesota Youth Beef Experience Program that would bring unexpected excitement and growth to my life. She informed me I would receive the Angus heifer at Beef Expo in less than a month after hours of hard work on an application, essay and letters of recommendation. As a second year applicant, I worked harder than ever to show the passion I had for my participation in this program that connects youth to a family donating a beef heifer to raise, show and keep records of.

Just a few weeks ago, Derek Stehr, a member of the Zumbrota-Mazeppa FFA Chapter received a similar call. After snapping me pictures of hours and hours of work on his application, Derek was informed he would also receive the Angus heifer this weekend at the Minnesota Beef Expo!
Serving as a State Officer has many positive aspects, but my absolute favorite part has been meeting members with a passion and drive so evident they cannot hide it. When I met Derek as a Region VIII Officer, I knew he would accomplish awesome things. So, as I waited impatiently for the results of Derek’s application, I was overjoyed when I heard he would receive the Angus heifer too!

But as a sophomore receiving my heifer, I could hardly contain my excitement for what was to come and the potential for success I saw.

I thought “Hard work + Passion = Success.”

However, I would compete in Creed Speaking just days before receiving my heifer and discover the contrary. After weeks of practice with my advisor and English teachers, I was prepared to recite the FFA Creed with excitement and passion (to the point that I once woke up in the third paragraph of the creed in my sleep). As I entered the room, I was more nervous than expected and made a mistake. I started the paragraph again, answered questions, shook the judges hands and walked out of the room relived I was still alive, but disappointed the event I spent hours preparing for seemed to be destroyed in just minutes.

Results were posted and I hadn’t made it on to the next round. Although I knew I hadn’t accomplished the goal I had worked so hard for, I discovered something more important than an award-winning Creed Speaker.

I discovered “Hard Work + Passion = Growth.”

Although my disappointment quickly vanished as I rushed to Beef Expo, this equation would lead me through my high school career.

The beautiful fall season brings opportunities ranging from football and volleyball to National Convention to One Act and concerts. No matter what goal or aspiration you may be working towards, hard work and passion are the key to success. However, this success may not always come in the form of an award or a winning game. This success may come in the form of growth, growth that could spring from disappointment or an unreached goal, much like my Creed Speaking CDE. Growth is carried from one goal to another and no matter how or when, the growth we gain through experiences will help us in the future.

My high school experience was full of stress, excitement and goals that were both reached and unreached. By deciding I was no good at sports of any kind, I missed out on an opportunity to try new things and left no chance for this growth to take place. No matter what you’re focused on, try things you believed you were not good at because PASSION + HARD WORK = GROWTH, growth that could bring you personal success and inspire those around you to also step outside their comfort zone and achieve.

Do more of what you love, try what you think you hate and find your passion and dedication for growth, no matter what success looks like. 

Stationed by the ear of corn,

Valerie Earley

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