Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What's your "Why?"

It is getting close to Christmas, and therefore, I am beginning to look forward to opening the beautiful packages that decorate the bottom of my family’s Christmas tree. One thing that is on the very top of my wish list this year is a “Love Your Melon” stocking cap. All of my friends are wearing them, and they look SO cute. They come in many different of colors, and you can even get them with a pom on the top. All of these qualities are great, but the real reason I want one of these hats is because of their background. Love Your Melon was started by two college students from Minnesota. This business started as a class assignment but has now turned into a mission to improve the lives of children who are battling cancer. For every hat that is purchased, a hat is given to child with cancer. This is the reason that I want a Love Your Melon hat.

Can you think of anything you’ve wanted because of something like this? I do this all the time. There seems to always be a reason, a why, that I want something. Anyone can make a nice stocking cap, but it is the companies who have a reason behind their product that sell it successfully. Much of this concept can apply to life. As young adults, we have the opportunity to be involved in so many different things whether it is sports, clubs, organizations or youth groups. Our opportunities are endless, yet we aren’t involved in everything. We decide, and our decision isn’t truly based off what it can offer us or when it meets or how much time it takes. The decision is based off the why.

Two nights ago, I had the opportunity to spend the night at the Jackson County Central FFA Chapter’s Crop Show and Degree Night. Their chapter Vice President, Ally, had text me a few weeks back asking me if I would come speak at the event. I was immediately excited to go and began to think of what I wanted to share with them. The day of the event came, and Ally checked in with me to see if I had all the information I needed. She also shared with me that she was finishing memorizing all of her lines for the degree ceremonies. This text may have seemed so small, but it really left me thinking about what FFA members do for this amazing organization. 

I continued to think about this as I attended the Crop Show and Degree Night. That night I got to watch 37 members receive their Greenhand Degree and 41 members earn their Chapter Degree. I watched the officer team recite their opening ceremonies with pride. I listened to Mady and Kayla talk about their experiences this past summer at the Washington Leadership Conference—their love of service and adventure exuded from them. And, I spent time with Maggie, their past FFA chapter president, who came back that night just to “help out,” and well, to be my support. 

After I got home, I continued to think about the dedication that not only these but all FFA members show in all they do. Ally is truly a perfect example of this. Ally had spent her day memorizing the degree ceremony parts, contacting me to make sure I had my life together and even submitting crop samples in the crop show. Ally has spent her FFA career serving others by serving as a chapter officer and on the state nominating committee. Ally shows a dedication to FFA, but she doesn’t do it because it is just another club. Ally might do this because she believes in the future of agriculture. She might believe in the opportunity to build relationships with people from across the United States. She might believe that all people can be leaders. This may be the reason that you as an FFA member do what you do. This is our why.

The concept of “why” comes from Simon Sinek who is known for his TED talk and many books that he has written. I first heard of him when I listened to him speak at the Live2Lead conference I attended and furthered my interest when our leadership coordinator, Lavyne Rada, threw one of his books at me and told me I could read it. Sinek talks about how there is a Golden Circle. The outside circle is the “what.” Most companies and organizations can tell you what they do. Then, there is the “how.” This is how the product works or how the organization runs. These parts of the circle are fairly easy to reach, but only a few can reach the most important circle: the “why.” This circle is the hardest to reach, but once it is reached, the organization will forever be successful as long as they keep that “why.”

This “why” is the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires us to do something or buy something. Just like I want a Love Your Melon hat because it will help a good cause, FFA members want to be in FFA because it builds strong leaders and nourishes forever friendships. FFA has a strong why and that is the reason we have such strong, loving members that surround us. Everyday I am amazed by the lengths FFA members are willing to go to help our Ag teachers, friends, supporters and producers. We all have a “why,” but for many of us, it will be different.

 How often do you answer the question, “Why do you love FFA?” with “because of the opportunities, the travel, the people.” All of these things are great, but these are only what FFA does. Every club can say that, but why is FFA different? I challenge us all to find our why. By finding your why, you will discover the great love you have for FFA. By knowing why you dedicate so much to FFA, you can better tell others your story. You can share your “why” and the legacy you want to leave.

Why do you memorize lines, drive hours for a competition, study binders after binders for CDES and work day and night to have a strong SAE? Think about it for a second. You all have a reason for what you do. We need to find that so that we can share it with others. In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” FFA Members, parents, teachers and supporters, why do you do what you do?

P.S. If you are looking for some inspiration over the break, check out Simon Sinek's TED Talk. It won't disappoint!

Stationed by the Plow,

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