Image for 2022-23 State Treasurer Emma Kepley Delivers Retiring Address

2022-23 State Treasurer Emma Kepley Delivers Retiring Address

Convention Riverton

No Hardwork, No Reward; Know Hardword, Know Reward

“YOGOWYPI”, You. Only. Get. Out. What. You. Put. In. I was once confused just like all of you by this analogy, especially after Mr. Larison, my ag teacher told me it for the first time. As a freshman in my Opportunities in Ag class, I was talking to my peers about running for chapter office but felt unqualified and overwhelmed by the amount of work. Mr. Larison heard me and shared this phrase, I didn’t know it then, but this phrase would shape the next 5 years of my life. Let’s flashback to 11-year-old me. Now, as a fresh, cool new 6th grader, I decided it was time for me to get serious about my hobbies, and piano rose to the top of this list. I loaded into my mom’s car and off we went to my local Ernie-Williamson Music store. While anxiously awaiting my mom to finish signing the papers to begin piano lessons, I was ecstatic about my new lessons with Ms. Amanda. Above all, I was eager to jump into learning how to play my favorite songs! Amanda quickly interrupted my rambling and told me that there were a lot of basics that I needed to learn before I could begin to think about playing those songs.

 Now in my head, I thought to myself that “Amanda must not know how musically gifted I am!” but I played into the bit. She handed me beginner piano books and told me, “That is what you need to start with before we can play the music you actually listen too.” Okay, not exactly how I thought this was going to play out, but I am all about being open-minded. I grabbed the books out of her hands and began to look through them, one book was just all about scales, “pretty boring” … I opened up the next book to find songs titled “C’s Rock! And Lightly Row” Really, C’s Rock and Lightly Row, you absolutely have got to be kidding me right now.  I was a musical genius, even though I may have only been playing clarinet in band for a month prior to this, but nonetheless, I was not going to let Amanda disrespect the pure, raw talent right in front of her. In reality… my piano skills weren’t what I cracked them up to be, but in my mind, I was way too advanced to be playing these songs. When I expressed that to Amanda, she took that as a challenge for me to prove my very non-existent piano skills. 

I sat down at the piano and laid my hands upon   the white keys, “Wrong Form” was what Amanda immediately shouted, “There’s a form to playing the piano? What is this some kind of sport?” She took a seat next to me on the piano bench and we started our first of many piano lessons together. In fact, we would continue to sit on the piano bench together for the next 6 years. In the time I spent with Amanda, I went from the beginner learning book to learning many of my favorite songs such as “Fifteen” “Death by a Thousand Cuts” “Never Grow Up”, and many more, just as she had told me on the first day of our lessons. When I moved further in the levels of my piano books one thing always remained the same, we always practiced scales and the fundamentals before we got into any of the fun stuff. As a 17-year-old I decided that I no longer needed to take piano lessons, my 11-year-old self-fulfilled her goal of taking her hobbies more seriously, and it was time for me to explore something new.

As I started spending time on these new hobbies,   the piano that sat in the corner of my room started to collect dust. When I moved out of my childhood home for college, the piano did too. Instead of being relocated to college here in Manhattan, it earned a special place in our garage, where it collected more and more dust as the months passed. Finally, the day came that it had been waiting months for. One day during spring break, I got bored and decided to break out my piano skills  . I cleared out space in my room for it and grabbed it from the garage. I plugged that bad boy in, cleaned off the layers of dust and sat down at the piano bench where the muscle memory that Amanda had taught immediately kicked in. I remembered the form of my hands upon the white keys, as I began to play the first notes of “Death by a thousand cuts” it was all coming back to me until a couple more notes in the song sounded completely unfamiliar. No big deal though right, Pianists mess up all the time, I must have just gotten carried away. I picked up my hands to begin playing the song again and received the exact same result as I had earlier.

This continued for the next several hours as I could not seem to accept the fact that I had forgotten almost everything that I had spent the last 6 years working on. How could I not remember this tune? After reflecting on my recent failure, I remembered what Amanda told me during our final piano lesson together. I had forgotten everything because I did not care to continue to practice the fundamentals. How was I supposed to pick up after a year and play the piano perfectly when I had spent a whole year ignoring it? That’s when it all clicked. “I only get out what I put in” since I hadn’t been putting in the effort to remember the fundamentals, there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to play the song perfectly.

We can’t put the fence post in our trailer and expect the fence to build itself. We have to put the work and effort into achieving the goal of building the fence. If we want to make the game-winning shot in the state basketball championship game, we need to dedicate our time to staying after practice and hitting every single shot so that when our team is counting on us the most we can deliver, If we want to win the prepared public speaking contest and have our name’s called on stage right here in McCain Auditorium, we can’t walk in front of the judges with nothing prepared or memorized, we have to spend the time writing the perfect speech, and meticulously memorizing it so we can deliver it flawlessly.

There are times in our lives when we strive for moments like this, moments where everything we worked so hard for finally pays off. We get the medal, the plaque, the recognition we search for. However, there are moments when we fall short of the goal, no matter how hard we worked to achieve it. That can be a defeating feeling because we thought we’d get out what we put in? In these moments of frustration and disappointment when we don’t reach our end goal, we should take a step back and remember that failure is a part of the process. All is not lost- in fact we’ve gained a new perspective through this. Without failure, there would be no growth. Growth leads us to find those successes that we wish so hard for.

So how do we harness the power of YOGOWYPI in our own lives? Maybe we have a lofty goal of playing Taylor Swift songs or placing first at a State CDE. Maybe we have a skillset we’ve always wanted to develop, like learning another language or sharpening our cooking skills.  What areas of our life are we putting off because we say we don’t have time? Regardless of what we’re aiming to achieve, both hard work and learning the fundamentals are the first steps towards success. If we only get out what we put in, today is the day to take the first step, and tomorrow is the day to continue our hard work. Kansas FFA, I challenge you to find something you are passionate about and put all of your effort into it. Spend countless hours bettering yourself for your future. There will be hard times, tears, struggles, and many other obstacles that will make you want to give up. Do not give in.

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