This past week I was honored to recapture my unforgettable experience of speaking for the National Future Farmers of America last October in Louisville, KY. I spoke for South Carolina FFA and Alabama FFA entitling my speech, “Don’t Throw Tomatoes at my Field of Dreams.” As always, these young people are set apart from the stereo-type of modern day youth.
I started my speech by saying that they are coined “Millennials” and I had both good news and bad news about their generation.
“There are 80 million of you and you are called Millennials. Most of you were born between 1980 and the year 2000.Time magazine published a story in May of 2013 titled “The Me Me Me Generation,” it begins: “They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional. Those aren’t just unfounded negative stereotypes; they’re backed up by a decade of sociological research. ” Here is the good news. Here are a few exceptions to this research; small town kids, children reared on a farm and immigrants.”
It was a moment of thunderous applause. I went on to say that this is their “Shine Principle.”
“As a young girl, I helped my father with my college expense and created a summer job picking tomatoes. I saw what the competition was doing selling tomatoes. The other tomatoes were dirty, and coated with fertilizer. I decided to wash mine, and pack them in waxed boxes. I made my tomatoes shine and they sold every time. What is your shine principle?”
I proceed to talk about the culling process of getting rid of what will not enhance your life. This is truly a lifelong process that many adults have not learned.
One of my favorite stories is about a contestant I judged in the Miss North Carolina pageant. Her name was Rasheeda. On the night of her talent competition, she was wearing the same dress as another contestant in her group. The next day, the judges had the opportunity to interview Rasheeda and the other competitor. I asked the first young woman how she felt about wearing the exact same dress. Her answer was laced with anger and resentment. A few contestants later, Rasheeda was asked the same question. She said, “Well, she (the other contestant) has good taste – just like me!” Guess who became third runner-up to Miss North Carolina? Attitude means everything and Rasheeda had the right attitude.
My speech concluded with the “Let it Go” Principle and I closed with the parody my bud, Jeff Slutsky helped me write to the Disney hit song “Let it Go” from the movie “Frozen.” I called the song, “You Can Grow.”
Pass this on to someone who needs to shine, cull, let things go, and grow. Remember; don’t let anyone throw tomatoes at your field of dreams.