Dear Little Me,
You have a pretty wild future ahead of you. You’ll meet people that will change your life for the better, and some not so much. There will be times that life is so amazing you can’t imagine it any other way, and the opposite will happen just as much. You’ll find out who you are as a person, no matter how crazy that sounds. Over those years you’ll learn a lot of lessons, ones that made you feel all kinds of emotions. Here are a few you learned:
When it’s time to lead, it’s not about you but the people being led. You really struggled with this idea for a while. You had your goals and wanted to achieve them, so you viewed leadership as one extra step to get you to where you wanted to be. Thankfully you don’t think that way anymore. Take steps to do only what a leader should do- communication and teaching others to grow as leaders.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back. I know that sounds horrible, you think you have to constantly be doing something to be something, but your mental health would thank you. Same goes for those around you, they need to have the same opportunities as you, and if you keep taking them they can’t. Not doing something doesn’t make you less of a person, if anything it will make you a better one (as long as it’s giving someone else the chance to grow). A good rule of thumb to remember is that it doesn’t matter the quantity of what you do, but the quality.
Not everyone will love how you approach things, and with that not everyone will love you. This was a lesson you had to learn the hard way. Of course, people’s opinions of you still matter way more than they should, but you need to realize that everyone likes a different cup of tea, and you won’t always be theirs. With that, you’ll have to work with different people and change how you work with them, make sure you understand that before diving into a new officer team.
Don’t be afraid to crush that comfort zone. One day you’ll hear an author talk on the radio, his one bit of advice sticking with you. While his name and what book he had written didn’t, this statement did: “Your favorite sound should be the sound of your comfort box ripping open.” Throughout the next few years in FFA you’ll hear officers say that “there isn’t growth in a comfort zone and there isn’t comfort in a growth zone.” Make sure to take that extra step when at a conference or meeting a new person, take a contest you're not sure about, interview for a new office you don’t think you can get. Break down the comfort zone and then go again.
Listen more than you talk. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. You’ll end up learning so much about people and end up forming a closer bond. You might even find someone that’s going through a similar thing, or someone that’s just like you.
Do not jump to a conclusion about someone before you know them. Duh. But for real, you only see a couple minutes of a person, and that couple minutes can be the worst time in that person’s day or even the best. All that jumping to conclusions does is ruin a relationship that could have been a great one.
Be vulnerable. No matter if it’s to friends, officers, or even members… do it. Don’t try to keep the image up that you’re a perfect person and that you can handle everything (we both know it’s not true). Those connections that you form with people, when they realize that you’re human too, are truly unmatched. You’ll end up learning more about others than you expected too.
Be yourself. There is only one you in this world. There is only one of you that can do what you do, so do not ever compare yourself to others. Every single person you’ll ever meet will bring their own ideas and personality to whatever you are doing, make sure you’re bringing yourself too. No matter how hard it is to fall into the trap of picking apart yourself, it’s not worth it.
Those are all things I wish I could tell my younger self. I’m sure we all have lessons that we wish we could have learned sooner, and more times than not we end up telling others about them so they can learn from our mistakes. So, I suppose, this letter is for you. Of course, take it for what it’s worth, but do try to look back at your own life and the lessons you wish you could have learned sooner.