Thursday, December 26, 2019

Lollipop Moments

      The first sight I see each time I open my laptop is Gandhi's famous words: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." These have been the words I have always tried my best to live by.  These are words anyone can live by. Life is full of choices that allow everyone to change the world, for better or worse!

       While you may think changing the world requires a big gesture, something as small as a lollipop is enough to make the world a better place. Not so long ago, I heard a story (attached below) that explained it all so clearly. In this TedTalk, Drew Dudley explains how he met a freshman girl who was nervous for college to the point where she was ready to quit and go home. It wasn't until he handed her a lollipop that she decided she was already home. With the smallest act of kindness, Dudley completely changed the young lady's life--and he didn't even remember doing it!

      Not too long ago, I had my own lollipop story. During the Minnesota FFA State Convention my junior year, I was waiting in the hallway to compete in the Prepared Public Speaking LDE. It was towards the end of the convention, and I was already exhausted. The speech I had prepared was called "The Next Generation of Farming." It was a topic I was prepared for and passionate about--yet, between nervousness and exhaustion, I was ready to simply "go through the motions" in the event that day. 

      As I was standing in the hallway with a less-than-enthused look on my face, this man came up to me and asked me a question I will never forget: "Do you know what your biggest asset is?"
      First of all, I thought this guy was crazy! I had no idea who he was, and he certainly didn't know me, so what could this question mean?! Since I couldn't, he answered the question. He said it was my smile. Never had a stranger said anything to me so kind and sincere. For about ten minutes, we talked about smiling, joked about being a teacher "for the fame and the fortune," and discussed the importance of my speech. 

      I walked into the competition energized and ready to give it my all, thanks to this conversation. It went awful. Halfway through the speech, I forgot my next line. Although this was a speech I had rehearsed dozens of times, I stood there for a solid fifteen seconds, and all I could do was smile. After gathering my thoughts, I skipped about a third of my speech and finished up. After a mess up like that, I was sure I would be done with the preliminary round. I ended up advancing and finishing second in the state. 

      That conversation was more than a conversation; Drew Dudley's kind deed was more than a kind deed. Between this unknown man and Dudley, they created two experiences that easily could have been overlooked. But they weren't. And because they weren't, two young ladies had their lives changed. Had that man chosen to walk by me in that hallway, I would have given a poor speech, not have the courage to compete in another LDE, not have the skill or inspiration to pursue leadership roles, run for state office, become a teacher, etc. That small act changed my life and my world, and it didn't take a superhero to do it. You see, changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it. 


      I had always wondered who the man in my story was. After Nic Potthoff, my teammate, and I shared the Lollipop Moments video during a workshop with Greenhand members in Region II, we met up with Nic's family. During dinner, I told my story. It was then that I found out that this man--Bob Roesler--is a close friend to the Potthoff family and Nic's mentor. Before we even left the dinner table, I messaged Bob and told him what he had done for me two years ago. A few weeks ago, we reconnected again, meeting for the first time since that convention. 

      I'm fortunate to be able to know who impacted me. Not reconnecting with Bob would have been such a missed opportunity! Think about how often you hear what impact your small actions have. The truth is, you probably don't hear about your impact enough. If I would have been Bob, of Drew Dudley, I would want to know those stories. Think about it. If you are going to be the change you wish to see in the world, shouldn't you show others how they are changing the world? 

      Here is my challenge for you. Reflect on your lollipop moments. Remember who was there for you in the most unexpected times and places. Send that person (or those people) a message saying, "You have changed my life for the better." After 24 hours, call them and explain to them why. Share your gratitude to those who have given you gratitude. 


      It doesn't take a superhero, a millionaire, or even an adult to change the world. Everyone has the power and influence to change the world, as we have the power to influence people. It can happen anywhere to anyone. Seek opportunities to make someone's day better, and share your gratitude to those who make your life better. That is how YOU can be the change you wish to see in the world. 

Stationed by the change,

Maddie Smith

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