Service has always been a part of my life. My family has always set an example for me of the importance to serve others beyond yourself. Sometimes this comes as sacrifice, but at the end of the day the lasting legacy of service will live beyond your years. I feel that growing up in a farming family instills a level of humility. If you are in production agriculture you soon realize that your best plans are no match for nature. As soon as you realize you are not in control, you can then relax and manage your operation.
Even though you manage well, sometimes you face failure. What makes the ag community so great is their willingness to lend a helping hand quickly to other producers in need. Each farmer knows the precarious nature of production, and that they are just one event away from life altering disaster. This keeps you grounded, and why I believe the farming community is always willing to lend a helping hand to each other. Everyone knows the struggle.
When I first heard of VALOR, I was immediately intrigued. What is VALOR – it’s a perfect combination of personal & professional development immersed in the most diverse and largest industry in Virginia. A leadership program immersed in the industry I know and love. I recognized the benefits of networking, exposing myself to new ideas, and challenging myself to be better. I knew that I wanted to be a better and more effective leader; a leader who is respected, and one that leaves a lasting legacy of steady leadership who inspired more. How would VALOR change me to be that?
I do not know if I will ever be an accomplished leader like those I respect today, but I recognize that it takes some work. With leadership comes responsibility, but also comes great reward. I came across this article a while back by Brian K. Dodd, “13 Reasons Why You Should Want To Be A Leader.” In this article he list the benefits of leadership.
1. Leaders Get To Celebrate Accomplishment
2. Leaders Have Stronger Beliefs
3. Leaders Get To Build Up The Self-Worth Of Others
4. Leaders Get To Live Lives Fueled By Deep Passion
5. Leaders Get To Accomplish Great Things With A Team
6. Leaders Get To Call Others To Action
7. Leaders Get To Create Memorable Events For Others
8. Leaders Get To Use Their Influence To Serve Others
9. Leaders Get To Cast Vision For A Brighter Tomorrow
10. Leaders Get To Bring People Together
11. Leaders Get To Leave A Legacy
12. Leaders Get To Have Very, Very Special Days
13. Leaders Get To Do It All Over Again Tomorrow
You see being a leader can yield some great rewards. It may require some pain and sacrifice, but you must remember pain is temporary.
Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman who was born in 1729. He was also an author, orator, political theorist and philosopher. Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I believe he was right, which causes me to wonder if you and I are doing our part to right the wrongs in this world? Are we? I suspect the answer is “No” for most of us. I hope we VALOR alumni can stay motivated to change that.
I am proud to call myself a VALOR graduate. I am proud of the accomplishment. I am proud of the changes it has made in my life. I am most proud of the lifelong friends that I have grown to love because those relationships yield the most. We are all permanently connected through our memories and experiences (especially those of us who dared to try snake wine or take a swim from a basket boat). We share in each other’s pain andthe joy of accomplishment. I am proud of each one of my FRIENDS. Now let’s make each other proud – as leaders.
Leadership is a behavior – not a position