A few weeks ago, I was on the white sandy beaches of Siesta Key in my home state of Florida after visiting some individuals whose lives were shaped by FFA. As I soaked in the salty air and the sound of the waves lapping against the shore line, I noticed a set of footprints that had been left in the powdery sand near me.
Being a native Floridian, this certainly wasn’t the first time that I had stumbled upon footprints on the beach. But this time it was different—the symbolism of those footprints meant something. They reminded me of the individuals I had previously spent time with and their deep impact on both FFA and agriculture as a whole.
For most of us, we desire to make an impact; to leave a “footprint” on the people and places that we encounter. However, sometimes I find myself wondering how to make that happen. I know I have acquired or been given talents and skills, but how do I use those to make a difference? That’s a question I have often found myself asking this year as a national officer. Fortunately, I feel like my time spent with those individuals helped to clarify three steps to influencing positive situations and raising up those around us:
- Step Out of Your Comfort Zone — Although we find comfort and ease in the things that we know and enjoy, we are often limiting ourselves in choosing the same interests, activities, restaurants, or making the same choices over and over again. We discover and learn through new experiences, thus widening our knowledge and widening our impact.
- Outwork Others — There are a lot of talented individuals out there, but what often separates the successful from those who fall short is the willingness to put in the extra time and effort. The extra work that is required to make our actions and our words purposeful can often be tiring and tedious. However, those purposeful actions can inspire and ignite change in others, once again widening our impact.
- Choose High Character — In any group situation—whether that is the business world or an officer team setting—we will always run into politics and the lure of doing things to get ahead. Even though these temptations may seem to be the easy way out, people respect and trust individuals who consistently do things the right way and are always looking out for the best interest of the whole group. Building the trust and loyalty of others helps widen our impact.
So this summer, if you head to a beach somewhere, take a glance down and notice any footprints that have been laid in the sand. They are there because someone chose to visit and leave an impact on the beach that day. What steps and choices will you make the leave your own personal impact in a larger way that grows your community?
Clay Sapp hails from Madison, Fla., and is a member of the Madison County FFA Chapter in the Florida FFA Association. He is currently serving as the 2012-13 National FFA President.