Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Influence: A Light to Others

I absolutely love Christmas. Like many other people, it’s one of my favorite times of the year, and honestly, what’s not to love? Stores are filled with sparkling displays of shining toys and mannequins, streets are lined with glowing lanterns twisted in greenery and red ribbon, and Christmas music whispers softly through the speakers in the local grocery store. Besides the evident Christmas cheer around my hometown, there are so many traditions to look forward to. For me, my favorite family tradition is the time spent decorating the tree.
Ever since I was little, I have always remembered the time spent decorating the tree. Christmas music echos in the background while my mom unpacks old cookie tins full of colorful glass and old crafted ornaments. The coffee table is opened up to hold the weight of various foods including ham and cheese roll ups, chips and salsa, sugar cookies, and my personal favorite, peanut butter M&M’s. The next hour is filled with happy smiles, full-bellied laughs, snack munching, and of course, the hanging of ornaments. Though all of this is fun, I always get assigned the hard part - the checking and untangling of yards of Christmas lights.
Every time I am assigned this dreadful task, I have to remember the golden rule my dad taught me many years ago.

“One burnt out light leads right to another. Fix one, you fix them all.”

Weirdly enough, I never thought this golden rule could ever be used anywhere else until a college friend of mine explained circuits and how it really can say alot about a leader’s influence.

As leaders, we always hear how our influence impacts those around us. Our influence is actually pretty similar to my dad’s golden rule. Christmas lights all run on one circuit, so when one goes out, all the bulbs after also go out. However, if the one light is fixed, all the others can become lit after it. When we influence others, we can help others be an influence as well. We can see our influence in others through their excitement, happiness, perseverance, and even their own actions.

This last week I had the incredible opportunity to finish up my chapter visits with some amazing members. When I was with the Aitkin FFA chapter, I saw what a positive influence can look like first hand. Walking into the classroom I was already nervous, but I was instantly greeted with the bright faces of Breena and Maggie, two chapter officers. I instantly felt their influence as their positive energy got me excited for my visit. Throughout the next few hours, I had the pleasure of seeing their positive influence in the classroom shown by their creativity, boundless energy, and willingness to help others around them. At the end of my visit while sitting with other members drinking hot chocolate and eating brownies, I noticed the atmosphere of the classroom and the attitudes of the members. Breena and Maggie were off giggling with others about some viral video, and you could see the influence they created around them. Simply, it was hard not to smile around either one of them. They didn’t only light up themselves by their influence, but they lit up others around them as well.

Our influence has the power to change the light of those around us. It may start out as a soft glow, but later turn into an intense beam, able to be seen from anywhere. As FFA members, it’s our job to light others up around us. We can encourage others, helping them by building up their own confidence. We can show our appreciation, because truly a little kindness goes a long ways. We can even simply be ourselves, which shows others we can be unapologetically authentic and true to ourselves. All of this encapsulates our influence. When we use our influence as a light, others light up around us, and our influence becomes bigger and bigger.

How can you influence others in your chapter?
What type of light can your influence have?
Even if you feel burnt out, how can you light those around you?

Stationed by the flag,

Eleora DeMuth

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