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The Joker Card


I wear a lot of different hats, literally and figuratively.  One of my favorites that I don’t get to wear as often as I would like to is my cowboy hat.  I have two, a straw and a felt, to wear depending on the season.  Ever since I started wearing cowboy hats, I have developed a tradition of putting a joker card in the inside lining of them.  Initially you may think it is some good luck charm and I guess to some degree it is.  But it has quite a bit of a deeper meaning than just hoping for being lucky.  In poker the joker is a wild card, meaning it can be anything it needs to be depending on the situation, making it as useful as the holder is creative.

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Many situations in life I have found being flexible to be as important if not more important than being an expert in any one topic.  One of these situations is when it comes to making connections.  When you first talk to me, I might come across as awkward and that’s because I don’t have the confidence to just walk up and start talking to people, but what I do have is social flexibility.  I have always considered myself a “social chameleon”, meaning that I am able to adapt to most situations and have a conversation about most things with most anyone.  I would not consider my self an expert at anything, but I have a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things.  This also makes me aware that I don’t know everything, so I am a little more willing to learn and thus in learning hopefully make a deeper connection with the person that I’m having a conversation with.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with being an expert about something, just that having the ability to have an open mind during a conversation can make a huge difference and allows you to be open to new connections.

Being flexible has its advantages beyond conversations.  I’ve always known that being flexible is important on the farm since things change on an hour-to-hour basis.  But as I’ve spent some time in college being flexible has turned out to be one of the most valuable skills to poses. One the best memories from my first semester of college was on a Sunday when a friend asked me if I wanted to ride with him to go pick up a cow a few hours away.  This is not what I had planned for that day but being flexible allowed me to go with him and have a great time.  Sometimes being spontaneous sometimes leads to the best things in life.

While we can’t always “expect the unexpected”, when the unexpected does arrive, we don’t have to always fear it, we can learn to embrace it.  This year having a joker card in your hat just might be the ace up your sleeve.

Eric Peterson


State Secretary