Friday, May 31, 2013

Emily Beneda delivers State President's retiring address

The Choice is Yours

Coke or Pepsi? …Coke Duck Dynasty or the Bachelor? … Duck Dynasty The Joonas Brothers or Justin Bieber …umm Neither K-State or KU? …Definitely K-State. Everyday we are faced with millions and millions of choices. Sometimes it’s almost exhausting! From simple choices like deciding on what clothes to wear, to those tough life questions, like what we want to do with our life? Life is full of choices both simple and difficult. The choices we make define who we are. They determine what car we drive, what career we have and what type of lifestyle we live. Ultimately our choices decide if we are doing the best we possibly can. By choosing to be the best version of ourselves we will be able to go above and beyond in all that we do. How do we ensure that we are doing the best we possibly can? We can do our best by choosing to act on our passion, choosing to commit, and choosing to challenge ourselves.

In order to be one step closer to being our best we should choose to do what we love and act on our passion.

This year at K-state I had the opportunity to meet Emily. Not me Emily, but another Emily. Who knew there could be so many of us? Emily is one of the most compassionate and caring people I have ever meet. She is always looking for new ways to lend a helping hand and has a passion for serving others. I’ve seen this passion as she’s volunteered her time to help organize a sleep-out for hunger and is even traveling to Mexico this summer as part of the International Service Teams. This passion became even clearer to me one afternoon while sitting at a banquet for an organization we were both a part of. Once we arrived we began introducing ourselves to a few of the different guests in attendance. All of the sudden one of the guest looked at her and exclaimed “Emily! I know you!” By the look on Emily’s face I could tell that Emily had never meet this person in her life. The guest then launches into a story about how her daughter serves as the president of a non-profit organization called Grains for Hope. She said that her daughter had received a letter in the mail containing a donation and along with the donation was a note from a girl named Emily explaining that she had found money outside of Hale Library one day after class, and since she couldn’t find the owner nearby she decided to keep it. Instead of keeping it for herself she sent it to her favorite charity, which was Grains for Hope. I was amazed by this story! My friend Emily, had found money lying on the ground, free for the taking, and instead of adding it to her own bank account she sent the money to the charity she was passionate about. What’s even more surprising was the fact that she didn’t tell a single soul about what she had done. Emily’s own parents who were standing next to her didn’t even know about it, she did it purely because she was passionate about helping those in need. She easily could have chosen to keep the money, but instead she chose to act on her passion of wanting to make a difference.

When Emily chose to act on her passion she set herself apart from every other student at K-state and all she did was support a cause that she was passionate about. Think about a few different things that you are passionate about. Maybe its FFA, maybe its barrel racing, or it could even be making a difference in the lives of others. Whatever your passion is decide what steps of action you can take toward your passion. With every little action we take, we will be doing our best, much like Emily did her best by taking action and donating the money. By choosing to do act on our passion, every task becomes more than just a chore for us, but something that we can enjoy and excel at. Think about it, what sets a really great speech apart from a not-so-good speech? What sets a great employee apart from a bad employee? It’s passion. Find what you’re passionate about and take the steps, no matter how big or small, to act on them in order to be the best you.

Once we choose to act on our passion, we can become even better at what we do by choosing to commit.

My Grandma is one of the most interesting people that I have ever met. She probably has more lighthouse collectables than any museum in the country, she takes more pictures than anyon I know, drives a stick shift, and she is always eager to learn new things. When Grandma sets her mind to something, she is fully determined to get it done. One summer my grandma decided that she was going to learn something new, and that new thing was water skiing. That’s right, I just said “Grandma” and “water skiing” in the same sentence. So one afternoon we went out to the lake with Grandma and before she began everyone started to give her advice on how to water ski. One of the most common pieces of advice she received was to not let go of the handle, no matter what. As my dad revved up the engine you could see the death grip that my grandma had on that rope. As the boat began to pull forward everyone held their breaths as my Grandma surprisingly pulled herself up out of the water. Cheers erupted on the boat as we all encouraged my Grandma to keep going. Since it was her first time, not surprisingly she fell back into the water within the first few seconds. That is the point at which my grandma took the advice of not letting go to heart. Grandma continued to hold on to the handle as tightly as she could even as she was being dragged through the water. After realizing that my grandma wasn’t going to let go any time soon, my dad cuts the engine and my grandma surfaces from the water catching her breath… still holding on to that rope. My grandma was so committed to learning how to ski she was willing to do anything to accomplish that task, even if it meant getting a mouthful of water, and sore arms for about a week. My grandma was able to learn how to ski and did the best she could by choosing to commit.

There are many things we can choose to be interested in. We are interested in what happens in the next episode of the Duck Dynasty, we may be interested running a marathon or 5K, and we may be interested in learning to play the guitar. When we choose to be just interested instead of committed we forget to follow through with our plans every time. The guitar and those running shoes we bought sit in the corner collecting dust. We end up putting off practicing those motions for the parliamentary procedure CDE until tomorrow, and then tomorrow becomes next week, and then suddenly the contest is upon us. I myself am guilty of procrastinating like this. But, if it is worth committing too, it is worth the price that comes with it. To get that A on that big chemistry test, it may mean giving up extra time with friends to study. Maybe the price we pay for commitment is investing our money into our SAE instead of another pair of shoes. If we want to become the high scorer on the basketball team, we can’t keep avoiding gym or the weight room. If we want to do our best, it all comes down to the choice we make. If you choose to be committed, then clarify your commitment by putting it into words. Surround yourself with people who are equally committed and are willing to help you reach your goals. By making the choice to be committed you will be able to excel in all that you do.

Once we chose to be committed we can continue to do the best we can by choosing to challenge ourselves.

When I was 12 I had made my mind up that I was going to be the next big thing when it came to track. When I say next big thing, I mean breaking the 6th grade high jump record. I had watched and watched the older 8th grade girls run and effortlessly float over the bar and onto the mat. After watching them I knew in my heart high jump was my destiny. At a full 5 ft 2 in. I show up to the very first day of practice and walk directly up to the high jump area. I lined up behind the 8th graders and within the next few minutes, I was ready to go. I stretch out my arms and legs and jump up and down a few times just like the professionals. Casually I jog toward the mat, and then as I get closer I pick up speed until I’m running as fast as I possibly can and then suddenly as I reach the edge of the mat I do what any professional would do…I close my eyes and jump. When I land, it isn’t exactly the soft perfect landing I was expecting. Instead I had landed on the bar and it hurt! This happened to me over and over again. It happened so often that I finally decided that lowering the bar was my best and by far the easiest choice. When I finally had it low enough that I could jump over without hurting myself or knocking that bar down I was satisfied. For weeks I practiced jumping at that exact height and never challenged myself to move the bar up higher. I was looking for the easy way out.

Taking the easiest path to achieve our goals is often very appealing. I choose to take the easy path and not to challenge myself when it came to high jumping. I had acted on my passion for high jump, and was committed to it, but wasn’t ready for the challenge. If we expect to do our best we must challenge ourselves. Nobody said life would be easy. Take the advice from the “Kid President” - "two roads diverged in the woods…and I took the road less traveled." And it hurt, man! Really bad! ROCKS! THORNS! and GLASS!! Not cool, Robert Frost! But what if there really were two paths? I want to be in the one that leads to awesome… Just as Kid President described, the path to awesome may be difficult and challenging, but if we choose to challenge ourselves then we can be on the path to awesome. What are some different things in our lives we’ve always wanted to do? Maybe you’ve always wanted to climb the hard side of the rock wall, but instead never challenged yourself by choosing to climb the easy side. Maybe you’ve always wanted the lead singing role in your school choir, but are to afraid of the challenge. Maybe you choose not to try out for a position of leadership either in your FFA chapter or another organization in school because of the challenges that come with it. In order for us to do our best, and get on the path to awesome just as Kid President said, we must choose to challenge ourselves. So many times we choose to avoid challenging ourselves in life and take the easy way out, but when we do we fall short of our potential.

We are faced with thousands of choices everyday. What choices will you make to be the best you can be? Oprah Winfrey chooses to be the best version of herself when she is acting on her passions, an Olympic Gold medalist chooses to do their best by remaining committed to their goals, and Bethany Hamilton chose to do her best when she challenged herself to relearn herself how to surf with one arm after losing it in a shark accident. To ensure that our choices make us the best we can be we can choose to act on our passion, choose to be committed, and choose to challenge ourselves. What passions will you choose and how will you act on them? Will you choose to remain interested or will you choose to commit? How will you choose to challenge yourself? What will you do to be the best you can be? Kansas FFA the choice is yours!

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