Kansas FFA Blog

You Are Enough

It is April, which means that the end of this school year is within reach. It also means that the busiest time of year is here and in full force. Spring sports have begun, classes are demanding, and the FFA banquet season is upon us. If any of you are like me, I have the tendency to feel a bit overwhelmed during this crazy but wonderful month. Before I go any further, I want to just tell you that you are enough.

Now, let me explain. A few times this spring I have felt as though I haven’t been enough. I’m not studying enough for my classes, I am not devoting enough of myself to my faith, I haven’t been a good enough friend, I haven’t fulfilled my responsibility in that club, the list goes on. The thing is, life is busy and sometimes we may feel like we are drowning in it and that is okay. The way I see it, is that If we feel we aren’t giving, doing, or being enough, that just means we care, and caring is GOOD. Earlier this week, a friend reminded me that as long as my heart is still in it, then I am enough.

Simply put, if you are feeling as though you aren’t enough or you don’t have anything else to give, please remember that you are enough. The people around you want to see you succeed. You have others who are looking up to you and who believe in you. As long as your heart is still in all your actions and words, then you, my friend, are going to make it through. I know this month’s blog was short, but sometimes the most important lessons to learn are short and simple. For me this month, it was learning that I am enough.  So please, please know that YOU are ENOUGH.

Forever Blue,

Katelyn Bohnenblust

Kansas FFA Treasurer


“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”  -1 John 3:20

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It’s No Joke – My Greatest Lessons Were Learned in the Blue Jacket

It may be April Fool’s Day, but I can assure you that this is no joke – I’ve learned some of my greatest lessons while wearing my blue corduroy jacket. While it would be impossible to include all of the lessons I’ve learned from my time as an FFA member in just one blog post, here are 8 of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in the blue jacket:

1. Be Fearlessly Authentic
Be Yourself - Emma Stone

There isn’t a “perfect” style of leadership. As an article from the Harvard Business Review points out, this is good news! If there was one cookie-cutter style of “ideal” leadership, we would spend forever trying to imitate it. And no one would trust us, because people don’t trust “fake” people.

As a result of my years as an FFA member, I have come to appreciate people who are real. People who are fearlessly authentic. At times, I struggled with this myself. I tried to imitate the leadership of others, incorrectly believing that I would be a better leader if I were less like myself and more like the leaders I looked up to. Eventually, I stopped trying to be someone else and became more comfortable with being my authentic self. As W.G. Bennis once said:

“Leadership without perspective and point of view isn’t leadership – and of course it must be your own perspective, your own point of view. You cannot borrow a point of view any more than you can borrow someone else’s eyes. It must be authentic, and if it is, it will be original, because you are original.”

Instead of spending so much time working to be exactly like other leaders, I wish I had worked to become more authentic from the start by asking myself the following questions from that Harvard Business Review article:

  • Which people and experiences in your early life had the greatest impact on you?
  • What are the moments when you say to yourself, this is the real me?
  • What are your most deeply held values? Where did they come from? How do your values inform your actions?
  • What kind of support team do you have? How can your support team make you a more authentic leader? How should you diversify your team to broaden your perspective?
  • Is your life integrated? Are you able to be the same person in all aspects of your life – personal, work, family, and community? If not, what is holding you back?
  • What does being authentic mean in your life?
  • What steps can you take today, tomorrow, and over the next year to develop your authentic leadership?

2. It’s About PEOPLE

In Relationships 101, John C. Maxwell writes:

A Short Course in Human Relations

The least important word: I.

The most important word: We.

The two most important words: Thank you.

The three most important words: All is forgiven.

The four most important words: What is your opinion?

The five most important words: You did a good job.

The six most important words: I want to understand you better.

I love this quote, because it’s a really neat way of explaining what leadership is all about: connecting with other people. Too many times, I’ve forgotten about this part of the equation. But every single time I have interacted with Kansas FFA members over the past year, I have realized that it’s all about PEOPLE. Real people with real lives and real struggles and real dreams. At the end of the day, they’re what it’s all about.

3. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I’m a huge fan of making lists (and even lists of lists) and working through those lists without ever taking a break. Last month, I finally broke down under the weight of it all. I had put far too much pressure on myself, and I hadn’t taken any time to relieve this pressure by actually taking care of myself.

I learned that it’s important to take care of yourself first. Take time to feed your soul. Not sure how? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Take a nice, long bubble bath.
  • Get up early to watch the sunrise.
  • Meditate for ten minutes after you wake up each morning. (There are plenty of apps that can help you meditate! Here’s one example.)
  • Cuddle with a kitten (or perhaps a puppy).
  • Start a journal.
  • Listen to music you love.
  • Try yoga.
  • Get a pedicure.

4. Focus on the Circle of Influence


In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey explains the difference between the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence. According to Covey:

We each have a wide range of concerns – our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a “Circle of Concern.” As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller Circle of Influence… Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about.

This is a lesson that I learned as an FFA member before I even knew what terms like “Circle of Influence” or “Circle of Concern” meant) Even though I wanted to be able to control everything (from the outcome of contests to the success of fundraisers to the smoothness of banquets), I came to learn that there were things I had no control over. Instead, I had to focus on what I could control. For example, I couldn’t control the outcome of an FFA contest, but I could spend as much time studying for that contest as possible. And I couldn’t ensure that a banquet would be flawless, but I could prepare as much as possible. All I could do was work on the things that I could do something about.

5. There’s No Growth in the Comfort Zone

In The 5 Levels of Leadership, John C. Maxwell writes:

In order to do anything new in life, we must be willing to leave our comfort zone. That involves taking risks, which can be frightening. However, each time we leave our comfort zone and conquer new territory, it not only expands our comfort zone but also enlarges us. If you want to grow as a leader, be prepared to be uncomfortable. But know this: the risks are well worth the rewards.

Almost all of my growth as an FFA member has occurred outside of my comfort zone. From competing in my first public speaking event as a freshman (the creed speaking contest) to speaking with the Governor during National FFA Week, there have definitely been moments where I was nervous to be outside of my comfort zone. But each of those moments helped me move forward and grow as a leader. As the saying goes: there is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.

6. Everything Speaks

Everything - Jennifer Lawrence

Over the last 303 days, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to serve as a Kansas FFA State Officer. During this time, I’ve worked with Ms. Mary Kane, the Kansas FFA Executive Secretary. One of the things that Ms. Kane has said frequently over the past year is that “everything speaks.” Ms. Kane has showed me that every little detail counts, and every little detail can make a difference in leadership. One example of this involves the wording of e-mails and documents. While it’s always important to proofread before hitting send, the words we use matter. Using inclusive language, and striving to make sure that no one is excluded, is important. Everything speaks.

7. Always Carry a Sewing Kit

Cat Sewing

One of my most embarrassing moments of all time occurred when I was running for a State FFA Office. The seam in the back of my black dress skirt ripped all the way up the middle. As you might imagine, this was not a look that I wanted the nominating committee to see. Luckily, I had packed a small sewing kit in my bag that morning. Sitting there with my skirt on backwards, I sewed the seam in the holding room. While this wasn’t necessarily a leadership lesson, it was an important lesson nonetheless: always carry a sewing kit with you. You’ll never know when you might need it.

8. This Is Water

This video speaks for itself, but I’d like to highlight one of the quotes from the end:

You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. That is real freedom.

As an FFA member, I’ve learned that this (right here, right now) truly is water.

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Pen v. Pencil–The Great Debate

It is a GREAT feeling when we have it all together! We know exactly what we want to be when we grow up, who our best friends are and the exact time we have to get up in the morning in order to be ready on time. We create plans for ourselves and our futures and these plans become so concrete, we dismiss any thought about altering our plans; we will not change. We write our plans in pen because we have no intention of ever erasing them to write new ones.

Until recently, my goals and the process I was going to use to achieve them had been written in pen. I knew since I was a freshman in high school that I wanted to go to Kansas State University, Major in Agribusiness and eventually work as a loan officer with Farm Credit. That was that. Less than a month ago, as I sat down to figure out the classes I wanted to enroll in for the next semester, I threw away the plans I had written in pen and traded them for a new blueprint–making sure to use pencil. Realizing that maybe I was not quite sure of what I wanted to do, I struggled to get rid of the plan I had written in pen.  It was easy to be satisfied with my path because it was familiar. With the help of some friends and a mentor or two, I rewrote my plan by changing my major and accepting the fact that things change and my new plan may also need a few revisions in the future.

The pencil is better than the pen. This isn’t because the pencil allows you to make mistakes, but because the pencil allows you to make necessary changes–the pencil is flexible; the pen is rigid.

As young adults, we make decisions everyday that affect our future. We are deciding where we want to go to college, who we want to spend our time with and (the most horrifying) what we want to do in our careers. It is important to remember that no matter how solid of a plan we have, we need to be open to change. Things happen and our plans WILL change! That does not mean that our plans were not good, it just means that they are no longer right for us. So, plan your future and dream big, but write in pencil.

Jon Bon Jovi says it this way:

“Map out your future, but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip.

Change is scary, but change is good!  Be open and be accepting.

Living To Serve,

Trenton Smedley

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Thriving at Your Next Interview: 10 Tips

The spring semester brings a feeling of rejuvenation for many of us. School is almost over, State Convention is approaching, holidays are celebrated, jackpot shows are starting up, track season begins…the list goes on and on. There are so many things to be excited about! Spring also brings something that we might not look forward to as much—interviews. Whether they be for scholarships, FFA or club offices, or summer jobs, we try our hardest to market ourselves for whatever position we are seeking. This can be incredibly stressful! From one student to another, I have sat on both sides of the table as interviewer and interviewee, and have learned much from the process. Here are ten tips to ease the apprehension and be prepared for your next big interview.


1. Dress for success. Plan your outfit the day before the interview. Generally, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
If you are interviewing in Official Dress, here are a few extra pointers:
• Make sure your shirt is tucked in!
• Before the interview, stop in the restroom and check your scarf/tie. Make sure your shirt is buttoned to the top.
• Ladies: Pantyhose are your best friend and worst enemy. To avoid runs, spray your pantyhose lightly with hairspray BEFORE you put them on.
Gentlemen: Wear dark socks. When you walk or sit, your ankles will naturally show a little, and white or colorful socks can be distracting against your black pants and shoes.
• For additional Official Dress hacks, check out this video:

2. Arrive at least ten minutes early. Regardless of how quickly or slowly things are running, you will have enough time to find the room and prepare yourself. Plus, arriving early shows the interviewers that you are punctual and you CARE.
3. Your name is called! Before you enter the room, take a deep breath and release slowly. It sounds simple, but it works wonders to calm anxious nerves. Remind yourself of how awesome you are and open the door.
4. When you walk into the room, make eye contact with your interviewer(s) and introduce yourself. It is generally appropriate to shake hands with your interviewer in a one-on-one or small group setting.
5. If there is a chair, wait for the interviewer to invite you to sit. Or, take initiative and simply ask, “May I sit?” Sit slightly forward in your chair and plant your feet on the ground. This puts you in position to listen attentively to questions.
6. Be confident in your responses. It’s okay to take a few seconds to think about your answer before you reply to a question. Giving specific EXAMPLES from your own life shows the interviewer when and how you have performed in the past. Tie this into how you will perform in the position you are applying for. A method for using examples in your answers is outlined in the STAR format.
For a list of interview question topics and STAR format resources, see the notes at the bottom of this page.
7. Remember, the interviewer on the other side of the table is a person, just like you. Be honest and be yourself. Most interviewers can tell when someone is trying to play themselves up. Aside from technical know-how, allow your responses to reflect your character and what is important to you. Skills can be taught, but reliability and trust are built upon your actions alone. (Again, see STAR formatting resources)
8. The final question. “Do you have any questions for me?” You may hear this one as the interview draws to a close. Try to ask the interviewer at least one probing question. Instead of asking “What is your favorite part about being ______…”, try “What does a typical day look like in your position?” This shows that you have a genuine interest in the position. Do not be afraid to ask when you can expect to hear about the results of the interview.
9. Thank the interviewer for their time. Remember that this person has given up a part of their day for you. A simple “Thank you for your time today” and a brief but firm handshake on the way out leave a good impression.
10. FEEDBACK. I was once told, “You have only failed if you have not learned something.” As a college freshman looking for summer internships, I have been turned away more times than I can count. But, with each interview, I learn what I can do to better myself to apply again in the future. It stings a little to be told “no”, but it is not the end of the world. Regardless of whether or not you gain a position as a result of an interview, you will walk away with experience. Reflect on the things that went well, and the areas where you need to practice. After the interview has concluded, ask if the interviewer has any notes or feedback for you to review. The great thing about FFA interviews is that your advisor will be happy to help you collect feedback from your interviews. Practicing interviews beforehand with your advisor or other experienced people will give you the feedback that you can use to be ready for your next interview opportunity.


STAR (Situation, Task, Assessment, Response) Interview Resources

Behavioral Job Interviewing Strategies for Job-Seekers

STAR Interviewing Response Technique for Success in Behavioral Job Interviews

• Think of specific roles where you have shown leadership. This may be a club officer, being responsible for your siblings or family members, or maybe at a job you hold.
• Consider a time when you have failed. What did you do to grow from this mistake?
• If asked about weaknesses, be sure to share what you are doing to overcome them.
• Think of specific times that you have been on a team. It could be something as simple as a class project or sports team. What was your role? How did you contribute to group success?
• What is your Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE)? What is one goal you are working towards through your SAE?
• Give an example of a time when you worked with a difficult person to accomplish a task. What did you do to overcome your differences?
• As students, we get very busy managing school, clubs, work, family, friends, etc. How have you prioritized these things? How will you manage your time to meet the demands of this position?
• Why do you want to serve in this position?


Living to Serve,

*insert handshake here*

Grace Luebcke

State FFA Secretary


Posted in 2016-2017 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Midst of the Storm

It’s no secret that wildfires have spanned across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Though these fires aren’t exactly “storms” they certainly had the same disastrous affect. They left scorched pastures, dead livestock, and destroyed homes in their wake. While many were spared, others were not as lucky. As my heart hurt for these families – some complete strangers to me, others friends and family – I was reminded of a similar incident just last year. Massive flames engulfed Kansas and Oklahoma and created large amounts of suffering. I had known even more of these families affected. In both instances, all that I wanted to do was help but I was not for sure how to do so. After further evaluating the situations, I have been able to find outlets to help provide aid. Every time I heard from these families, I found the same hope they all chose to focus on. Instead of dwelling on their circumstances, they chose to find what they could do to bounce back and respond to a negative event in a positive way.

As I reflected and processed all of this, I began to wonder: would I have responded the same way?

Picture from CNN of one of the most recent wildfires in Kansas.

Picture from CNN of one of the most recent wildfires in Kansas.

We each have our own storms in various forms. For some of us, our storm revolves around a relationship while others have a storm that swirls when we are at school. Several other examples of storms can occur throughout everyday life. It can become so frustrating, but we have to remember the choice we have. Though we cannot always prevent these storms from happening, we can choose how we respond to them. We can feel bad for those who have been hurt, or we can choose to turn that compassion into action and find ways to help. Especially as we endure these different storms in our own lives, we can either feel sorry for ourselves or accept what has happened and learn how to bounce back from it. While in the midst of the storm, it can be incredibly difficult to make this decision. I have found it helpful to find an anchor to help me through the worst parts. This can be something to focus on, keep you grounded, or motivate you during these times. For me, this would be my faith and family.

A great song by Christian artist Ryan Stevenson called “Eye of the Storm” has a part in the chorus that says, “You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn, your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm”. What is your anchor? When times get tough and the storms shake you more than ever before, how are you going to respond?


Maybe you are sailing through clear waters right now or maybe your boat has been rocking for quite some time. Find comfort in remembering no storm lasts forever and they can even be followed by a rainbow.

With hope,

Elizabeth Meyer
Kansas FFA State President

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African Time

Quick review of the day: I woke up a little late, discovered the nearly-Antarctic temperature as I ventured forth to Ag Econ 315, drove out to the Stout Center to feed Noodles the Rope Horse, came back to my dorm to work on Macroeconomics homework, finished an assignment for the speech class that had been canceled, went to the Derb to eat, and capped it all off by visiting the place a friend was boarding her horse at so I could help her when she left for Spring Break. Spring Break. I’ve done a decent amount of things today, but I’ve also spent the whole day thinking about Spring Break. It’s only a week away! But it’s also a whole. Week. Away.
As I got back from my evening feeding of Noodles, I realized just how much time I’d spent thinking about Spring Break. I wasn’t as engaged as I could be class, doing my homework, or even interacting with people, because Spring Break and my plans stayed in the back of my mind. The worst part is that not one second of thinking about Spring Break is going to help it come any faster. I tend to think about the future pretty frequently, and that’s not always a bad thing. But when I stress and obsess about the future I lose focus of what’s in front of me.
Another thing that’s been on my mind recently is the past. I’ve been talking to a lot of friends who worry that because they made questionable decisions in the past, they can’t really move past that point in their lives. I think we all have our own baggage that we struggle to move past. When we spend time thinking about all the things we’ve done wrong in the past it becomes pretty easy to miss what we’re doing in the moment.
My teammate Katelyn likes the quote “wherever you are, be all there”. For me, our time in South Africa really showed me what it meant to live in the moment. One South African professor who visited with us started a little late, and took the opportunity to say he was on “African Time”. After we asked what that meant, he explained that in African philosophy, the idea of living in the moment was highly valued. “African Time” referred to the tendency of people with this train of thought to be a little early, or a little late, but mostly to never make time a huge deal. This was because they placed such a huge value on the moment they were experiencing at the time.
I think we all need to be a little more comfortable living on “African Time”. We should each value the experiences that happen around us rather than worrying about what’s ahead of us and letting our pasts weigh us down. Whether it means trying not to be so focused on what’s coming or not letting our past experiences hold us back, we should seek to maximize our potential to experience a moment.

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So Much Wisdom

While attending Kansas State University I had the privilege of taking a class from Dr. Michael Wesch this fall. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work. While taking his class I was constantly challenged, and his class allowed me to see far more than my mind has seen before. Just a few weeks ago, he came and lectured about a few of his core beliefs. Even though I had heard them all before, they hit me even harder during this lecture. Here are a few of the things he shared that I think we all could benefit from.

1.       Stop trying to find your passion.

  • You don’t have one. Instead, just BE PASSIONATE about everything you do.

2.       Do not try to have all of the answers.

  •    It is the questions that matter. EMERGE IN WONDER.

3.       You are always more than your score.

  •       Do not let grades and categories define who you are.

4.       There is no such thing as a “math” person, so stop pretending you’re not one.

  •   Have a growth mindset, meaning you are in control and you can build your skills.

5.       Your greatest strength will most likely come from your greatest weakness.

  • Dr. Wesch terms this as your “strengthness”.

6.       Failure is fun and fascinating.

7.       Always be trying something new.

8.       You are a hero.

  • Hero is defined as a deeply flawed human being with fatal weaknesses that is a gift to the world – often because of a weakness itself.

9.       Move past the judgement of others.

10.   “You can’t love anybody before you love everybody.”

There is a lot of wisdom in the ten points stated above, but just reading these points won’t do anything. Instead, take time to reflect on each statement and think how it applies to your life. For me, these ten points have challenged me to live more passionately, try new things, ask questions, learn more about my strengths and weaknesses, and finally love in a way that shows grace and compassion to everyone. Each day we have the opportunity to fully engage, be present, and improve. Don’t let another day slip by without living with intention, joy, and engagement.

Forever Blue,

Katelyn Bohnenblust

2016-2017 Kansas FFA Treasurer

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Checking the Cost: Lessons Learned from South Africans and Pony Trimming

I remember being at Grandpa’s place near Longford one evening and herding his small circus of miniature ponies and donkeys into the small pen closest to the house. Our goal for that evening was simple. Using a trusty old pair of nippers, a rasp, and a hoof knife we found in the shed, we were to trim the mini stud, the jack, and one of the jennies that was running around the pen. The two gentlemen weren’t fun to trim, but as we wrangled the jenny we knew we’d be in for a really tough time. One wouldn’t expect a little donkey to require grandpa, my formidably sized father, and myself for a trimming, but that was the case. The little burro squirmed, kicked, bit, reared, and did everything in her power to keep from being trimmed. About the time the struggle was reaching its climax, Grandma walked out and reminded us that dinner was ready and it was getting dark. Now, this made me pretty happy because I enjoy food and I was tired of fighting a miniature donkey. However, Grandpa knew that we’d probably have to be out there a little longer, because this needed done. A pretty fair number of old horsemen will share the secret that “horses can’t tell time”, meaning that you’re on their schedule. The same is true for miniature donkeys, so we finished trimming and rasping down hooves until the job was done. Grandpa knew not to consider time, because we needed to do what was beneficial for little Bethly the donkey.

This reminds me of a really cool experience I had while we were in South Africa for ILSSO. We visited the farm of a gentleman named Andre Cloete, who shared this little bit of profound wisdom with us. When asked for some advice about farming, he said he rarely considers the cost of helping plants grow. In essence, he always wanted to make sure the plant had what it needed to thrive, despite any cost he might incur.

To me, this message is much deeper than simply looking at plant health. So often, we find ourselves questioning if we have enough time or money to follow through with something that could benefit us. For me, I struggle with taking time to reflect as much as I should, and reenergize when I’m feeling drained. I question doing activities with friends when I know they would strengthen our bonds because I might be concerned about how I’m managing my money. On top of that, we can be too quick to consider the costs of helping others. Whether we’re hesitant to commit ourselves to service or we simply don’t feel like we can make room in our schedule for meaningful projects to benefit others, we often have a hard time feeling comfortable with these things.

A challenge I have for myself and all of us is to stop worrying so much about the cost, and focus on the growth we’re encouraging. Take time for yourself, and make sure to “treat yoself” every once in a while. Just as importantly, take time to benefit and grow others, and don’t shy away from the opportunity to serve because you fear the costs. I’m not asking you to completely pull yourself away from managing yourself, but we should all be more receptive to growing ourselves rather than fearing the costs.

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Coaching Towards the Gold Standard: Authentic Leadership

According to the Harvard Business Review, “authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership.”

So what exactly is authentic leadership? According to one journal article, authentic leaders:

  • Do not fake their leadership.
  • Understand their core values.
  • Are originals, not copies.
  • Believe in their core values because of their own personal life experiences.
  • Act based upon their values.

Image result for authentic leadership

So how do we reach the “gold standard” and become authentic leaders? We coach ourselves towards authentic leadership. This concept of “coaching” towards authentic leadership was introduced to me in one of the leadership classes I am currently taking at Kansas State University. Bear with me for a minute as I explain the basics of leadership coaching, and then I’ll explain how coaching can help us become more authentic leaders.

What comes to mind when you hear the word coaching? Maybe an image like this comes to mind:

Sporza coach euro2016 euro 2016 harmony

Or maybe, the image that comes to mind looks more like this:

Coach Bill Snyder

For many of us, images of sports coaches quickly form in our minds when we hear the word “coaching.” However, this isn’t the type of coaching that I’m talking about. Instead, I’m referring to leadership coaching. According to the International Coach Federation, leadership coaching can be defined as partnering with [others] in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

This is something that each of us can do with our friends, family members, and peers. How? It’s simple, as long as you understand the basics of leadership coaching:

  • Listen, Linda. Stephen Covey once said that “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” In coaching, this is not the case. If you are coaching a friend or family member, it is not your job to reply. Instead, it is your job to actively listen as they talk about their life stories and experiences.


  • Ask short, powerful questions. These questions will help the person you are coaching gain clarity about who they are.
  • After asking a question, stop talking. Even if there is an awkward silence, don’t try to fill the void by continuing to speak or elaborating on your question. Stay silent, and let the person you are coaching take time to think deeply about their answer.
  • Don’t offer advice. Unlike therapists, leadership coaches don’t offer solutions or advice. Instead, they actively listen and ask questions to help people gain insight and find their own solutions.
  • Don’t brag. When coaching, or acting coach-like, don’t make it about yourself. Just listen.

At this point, you may be asking what in the world all of this has to do with authentic leadership. When we tell our life stories, we gain clarity about who we are and what our role is. Coaching allows us to gain a better understanding of our personal experiences as well tell our stories.

Need proof? Check out the journal article referenced earlier in this post. According to this article published in The Leadership Quarterly, “authentic leadership rests heavily on the self-relevant meanings the leader attaches to his or her life experiences, and these meanings are captured in the leader’s life-story. We suggest that self-knowledge, self-concept clarity, and person-role merger are derived from the life-story. Therefore, the construction of a life-story is a major element in the development of authentic leaders.” Coaching (or being coach-like with) our friends, family members, and peers gives us the opportunity to construct our life stories and become more authentic leaders.

Image result for leadership coaching

“Leadership without perspective and point of view isn’t leadership – and of course it must be your own perspective, your own point of view. You cannot borrow a point of view any more than you can borrow someone else’s eyes. It must be authentic, and if it is, it will be original, because you are original.”

– W. G. Bennis

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Take the Stairs

Every day, I face a choice–a simple choice. Do I take the stairs or the elevator? On my lazy days (or leg days), I will find myself standing in an over-crowded box in an attempt to spare just a little bit of energy. On the days when I feel especially fit, I climb the steps to my destination.

There are a number of reasons I choose to take the elevator. It is convenient to push a button and go exactly where you want to go. By taking the elevator, I expend hardly any energy. I simply walk in and after a few moments I am where I want to be with little to no effort on my part. The elevator allows me to stay comfortable. Elevators provide us with a sense of convenience and comfort.

Likewise, there are a number of reasons that I should take the stairs. By taking the stairs, I am making a healthy decision. The calories I burn by walking up the steps add up quickly and it allows me to stretch out my legs and get some blood flowing. These small bits of exercise keep my mind and body functioning at the highest level all day long! Plus, after climbing more than 50 flights of stairs in a day, I can’t help but feel accomplished.

Just as they should, after weighing my options, the stairs win most of the time. Just because something is convenient, does not necessarily make it our best option. By taking the elevator, I never have to get uncomfortable or worry about hiding my heavy breathing once I get where I’m going. On the other hand, taking the stairs allows me to keep my blood flowing, benefits my health and fitness and (if I do it every day) maybe I won’t have to worry hiding that heavy breathing!

Get uncomfortable. I have found that in just about any situation, if you want to be the best version of yourself, you have to be okay with doing hard things. Make the decision to try something or break the norm, not because it’s easy, but because it’s good for you.

There are a lot of parts that are needed to make an elevator work properly. An elevator needs electricity, pulleys, doors, buttons an emergency phone and a lot of other components too! Why complicate things to make yourself comfortable? Get uncomfortable, keep it simple and take the stairs!

Living To Serve,

Trenton Smedley

Posted in 2016-2017 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment