How many times have you heard someone called an enigma, or a real piece of work? Most often these references are made in jest, but there is always a bit of truth to why those words are conjured up to describe someone. We all are a bit of a puzzle. We never fully know how the pieces should fall together at first, or even as our lives begin to unfold. If I didn’t know this before, I am realizing quickly during my time in the Inaugural class of VALOR.
Being the most “senior” member of the group, I wondered if I should even be in VALOR. I have lived an interesting and productive life so far, but the event-filled sessions we have experienced thus far have shown me you really can teach “an old dog new tricks.”
As we approach our third seminar weekend in Harrisonburg, I look back to what we have already experienced. We have seen some amazingly diverse and successful agribusinesses, the people that make them tick, and Virginia Tech, one of our land grant universities that prepares young minds and helps our farmers be more productive. To tour operations such as Commonwealth Gin and see the process Eli Whiney began to modernize years ago is an invaluable educational experience.
In my years in the industry I have traveled the state countless times and thought I had seen it all, but nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t think anyone could really see or know all the bounty of our industry, both in products and the people that make it happen. No segment can be done without in the success of an agricultural community.
What has surprised me as much as the industry segments we have seen thus far in the program have been the individual development and self-learning techniques of VALOR. During the first seminar we received our results of testing that gave us our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. This is a test I had heard of for many years and never had gone through it to learn my personality “type,” but I was impressed with how accurate it truly is. Who would have thought I would be considered “practical, realistic, and decisive…” but who am I to argue with science?
In our most recent seminar we received the results of another test that gave us yet another piece of the puzzle of who we are and how we can learn and develop from it. This one is called Emotional intelligence (EI). If you are like me, your first thought was to ask if this was an oxymoron. But I gave it a shot and found it to be another valuable tool provided in our VALOR journey. We all had fun seeing each others eyes light up and grins sprout as we realized there was truth lying in the binders that charted our EI.
Now try as we might, we really can’t alter our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. I am afraid that die has been cast. However the Emotional Intelligent results can show us a path for improvement, even how slight. It shows we can work on ourselves, sharpen skills and, if need be, temper other qualities. Both of these tests gave us valuable information I have already begun to use in my everyday life. We as individuals aren’t the only ones benefiting from our growth, but our family, friends, coworkers, and employers are as well.
Though it was many years ago, I still remember my last quarter of college and the classes I took that Fall. Among these, I had signed up for a spare elective in the Philosophy Department called Search for Reality. I dropped it after only one session and mused “I did so because I was afraid I would find it.” Now in walking the path with my fellow VALOR classmates for our search of knowledge, the betterment of ourselves, and how we might enhance our service to the industry of agriculture, I can say without reluctance that I look forward to each of our seminars together learning about our state’s largest industry, and do not fear the reality I find even when looking into ourselves seeking yet another piece of the puzzle.