Balance in Approach; Relentless in Purpose

In these times of uncertainty as we navigate this school year we have to balance more than ever before…

Concerns related to health and safety…

Concerns of community perceptions…

Concerns of financial security…

The list could go on and on.

Each day presents new challenges for us that may feel at times like one step forward and two steps back. I’ve cherished the trust and faith my district/school leadership has had in me making tough decisions for our Ag program; going on an officer retreat was one of those moments where they trusted my judgement. I knew we needed to go for our chapter, but most especially for beginning the process of building a true team with this new crop of leaders.

Our kickoff spot for officer retreat surprised our leadership team when we pulled up to Mushroom Rock State Park. I asked that they explore the small grounds a little before we came back into the group. It was fun seeing the students have the freedom to enjoy each others’ company and explore these fascinating rock formations.

When we gathered back I asked what they found…here were a few unedited responses:

a lizard…grass…rocks…mushroom looking rocks…markings on the rocks…

We all got a little chuckle out of the obvious responses, but then I came back to those mushroom looking rocks…all is not as they appear. The mushroom shaped rocks appear to be simply floating effortlessly atop the fragile sandstone pillars, but in reality are bound together through a natural cement called calcium carbonate (yes I’m a geology geek).

1200px-Mushroomsp

It brought us to our first reflection question: This year will be unlike any other we will ever experience…what priorities will we need to balance as individuals and as a chapter for us to be successful? 

Overwhelmingly our leadership team brought up the theme flexibility. Being flexible in these times of COVID and national unrest. I agreed, but I challenged them in how we balance that. Flexibility is important, but are there things that are inflexible during these times?

I offered we must be Flexible with Firm Purpose…meaning yes we can be flexible in our approaches, while also refusing to sacrifice our purpose in the process. Our purpose is serving the members by cultivating leadership and serving our community by addressing a growing list of needs. This value placed on purpose would be inflexible, whether virtual or in-person we will strive to our best ability in accomplishing our purpose…no excuses!

We then moved on to address the the rocks slightly buried in at a slant. Our leaders observed that they looked similar to the tops of the other mushroom rocks…what caused them to be at a slant? These were former mushroom tops that had indeed collapsed many years prior, from the ever brittling sandstone that held their full weight. Yet, even so, they offered a unique sight that was beautiful in its own right. There will be times this year that outside circumstances and situations will collapse former traditions…some may never return to the way they had been. Yet,  can we ensure what does emerge offers the same value just from a different angle or could it even be something greater than what had existed before? 

An example of this was taking our students to the in-person Greenhand Conference held each year. This year that was not possible, yet we still wanted to generate excitement for our newest members a part of the program! Therefore, we decided to host an in-person “Blue Valley FFA Greenhand Experience” at our school facilitated by past Blue Valley FFA members from the last seven years and our current crop of FFA leaders. Topics and workshops we’ve generated are driven by the unique opportunities offered by our program and ways we want to inspire our future members. It has been exciting to see the experience coming together and connecting with our former FFA members. 

This year will not look like any year we have had before…

There will be changes beyond our control which will require balance and flexibility in our approaches, yet there will be equal opportunity to declare those values and purposes that are enduring and will NEVER change in light of changing approaches. 

Take time in reflection for identifying what values and purposes must endure for ourselves during these times…now how will we relentlessly pursue them?  

Writer’s Note: There has been a longer than I anticipated break in my public blogging over the summer and early start to the school year as I’ve gotten my ‘sea legs’ under me. Yet, the faucet of inspiration and writing has not stopped its simply gone underground for a bit. I’m excited to get back into the swing of blogging again and connecting with you as fellow journeyers on this new adventure. Thanks as always for reading and sharing! Take care and take heart my friends, Anthony.

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