Our county fair week has come to a close and I have so much to reflect on. There are some things that are very heavy on my heart. It was a great fair. The success we enjoyed is nothing short of amazing and I think the kids have really learned how important hard work and dedication is. I've read posts online recently about what it is like to be successful and feel like you have a target on your back. I am choosing to look at it differently (admittedly it took me a few days to have this perspective).
I could let a great fair be overshadowed by hurtful stares, comments made under others breath and sometimes glaringly shouted as we are passing but I am not going to. I know how hard we work as a family. I know the hours we spend in the barn. I know the morning and evening routines. I know how tired we all are and how hard it is some days to continue but no matter what we do. This matters to us and we wouldn't do it if it weren't for a true love of this life.
In reflecting on the past week, I thought of a few things I wanted to share here, a little food for thought before you travel to your next show.
Stop Making Assumptions
Don't automatically assume people who are successful are doing anything unethical. When you assume the worst you are assuming someone is raising their kids in a dishonorable way. Put yourself on the other side of the coin and think of how you would feel if you heard some of those things being said about you.
People, in general, are good and wouldn't do anything harmful to their livestock let alone teach a child how to break the rules. Always assume the best rather than automatically falling into the negative trap.
Find the good in everything
Instead of looking for the bad look for the good, always try to stay positive (I am guilty of this too). Criticism seems to roll off tounges so easily, maybe we all need to keep it positive and always find something good to say.
When you hear negative things being said about good people defend them. Think about how that family or child will feel when hurtful rumors make it back to their ears (and they always do). If we all are the best we can be in the show barn imagine how much better the experience would be for everyone.
Can you learn something
Ask yourself what you could learn about a person's program and implement at your barn. Chances are a person who is successful is more than happy to help you out, I know if anyone came to me asking for tips or advice I would certainly give it to them. I have nothing to hide, we are an open book. When you receive that advice don't doubt them or look befuddled when the answer often times is hours in the barn or repetition. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me for a shortcut only to have me tell them there are none. It is hours of practice and repetition that will reap big rewards.
Don't Judge My Investment
Understand everyone participates at different levels. Some people have livestock as a fun summer project for their kids to learn responsibility. Others are like us, all in. We make choices, invest in our kids and their livestock both financially and more importantly with our time.
Don't criticize either side of the spectrum. We all have different goals and want our kids to learn different things. When I hear a parent say they are done because they can't beat someone else makes me sick to my stomach. You clearly aren't in it for the right reasons and aren't teaching your kids the real purpose of this project.
Watch & Learn
Step back and watch, take it all in. My kids have been showing sheep for 7 years now. We had absolutely NO knowledge when we started and look at how far we've come. ANYTHING is possible. I am not ashamed to say we have spent plenty of time watching others, trying to learn and implement what we've seen be successful.
The Gift of Time
When an individual invests their time in a role they are not doing it for their own kids, if anything it actually takes away from their family. They aren't doing it because they are power hungry. They aren't doing it for nefarious reasons. They are doing it for one and only one reason. To help others.
Find ways to help your agents, superintendents and volunteers. Rather then tearing them down see if you could do something to make life easier. One of the kindest gestures I received was a pan of homemade lasagna, salad and loaf of french bread this summer. I know that family values what I am trying to do for kids in the county and my family appreciated the real dinner!