Like any good Millennial, I have an obsession with Netflix. My most recent show of choice is the one and only, “Parks and Recreation.” This show is all about Leslie Knope, the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, and her enthusiasm for local parks in the small town of Pawnee, IN. I have come to love this masterpiece of cinema magic for a few reasons. First, it takes place in the beautiful state of Indiana. What can beat that, right? Second, it is about local government, which I hope to work in someday. Finally, it is about being passionate about your work, which I would argue is one of the most important things in life.
Before I began writing this blog, I had a binge watching session to finish Season 2 of this glorious show (I know, I’m not that far in. Don’t judge me, Parks and Rec veterans). However, the last episode of that season is set around the turmoil of the government shutdown of City of Pawnee due to the city’s poorly run budget. This causes quite the problem for Leslie’s grand plan for the start of the city’s summer concert series for children. She can’t use any of the local parks because of the government shut down. She will have to get all the supplies donated because she can’t use any of the department’s resources. However, Leslie doesn’t let this stop her from bringing the joy to the children of Pawnee. She overcomes all the challenges and puts on a great concert all for the kids.
This is what I love most about Leslie Knope. She doesn’t give up. She identifies the obstacle, determines how she will get around it, and sets her mind to be successful. Often times, I sit back and wonder, is what Leslie puts herself through really worth it? That’s the difference between Leslie Knope and most of us though. She is so insanely passionate about her work that she makes sure she is successful.
Here’s my challenge: Be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do. Often times, we get in such a routine with our work. We go through the motion. We do what is absolutely required of us and nothing more. I fall into the same trap. When we fall into this trap of stagnation and apathy, we don’t do all we could and we aren’t as successful as we could be. Every day, we must wake up, reenergize the passion we feel for our work, and push on to be the Leslie Knope of whatever we do. You might ask, what if I don’t feel any passion for what I do? Well, it’s time to move on because if you aren’t passionate, what are you accomplishing?
In the finale episode of Season 2, Mark Brendanawicz, the City Planner, gives Leslie plans for a future park. While he notes he couldn’t fit everything in that she wanted, such as a shark tank or a roller coaster, he thought it was pretty cool. Just when Leslie begins to think she won’t be able to build a park for a while with Pawnee’s budget issues, Mark says, “I wouldn’t bet against you.” If you put your passion to work to overcome whatever challenges you may face, I wouldn’t bet against you either. Whether you are an accountant, a local farmer, a fresh college graduate, an Indiana FFA member, or even a Deputy Parks Director.
Just remember, be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do.
Indiana FFA State Northern Region Vice President