Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Breaking the Stigma

Untouchable. Faultless. Perfect. As a young FFA member, I believed that State Officers were larger than life. They seemed so aloof from my life. It appeared to me as if they lived on a pedestal. At the Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) Conference, it came to my attention that these very thoughts were running through the minds of some of those in attendance. One senior FFA member insisted that he could never see himself in the position of state office because he “was not good enough.” To him, the goal of state office just seemed intangible. This reveals the stigma surrounding the Indiana FFA State Officer program. This reveals the disconnect between state officers and members. 

These moments of disconnect are caused by state officers believing that they must live up to the “expectations” of the office: perfection, professionalism, personability. This creates a divide. In my time as State Secretary, I have found that members want to see the mistakes. Members want to see the times when we as state officers are entirely human. Members want to see authenticity. It is that authenticity that allows for the most genuine of connections and interactions.

The reality behind state officers is simple and shocking: we are very imperfect humans. Just like everybody else. I do not spend all my time writing curriculum, speeches, or emails. I do not spend all of my time behind a computer. I live a simple teenage life; I am only 18. I play soccer when I’m bored. I watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and read Percy Jackson. I love my dairy cows. I go on long drives with the team. I will not hesitate to propose to someone in Walmart on a Tuesday night because I think that it is funny. I reference TikToks and am always on Snapchat. This is me. This is state office. Imperfect and human.

For those that are considering running for a chapter, district, section, or even state office, think about the expectations that you hold for yourself. Are you putting yourself on a pedestal? Are you creating a disconnect between yourself and the members that you pledged to serve? Are you falling into the “expectations” and the stigma of the office? If so, I challenge you to remain genuine and true to yourself. The best way to serve Indiana FFA and its membership is through heartfelt, genuine leadership. 

Breaking the Stigma,

Nicholas Neuman

1 comment: