By, Christy Lee Couch, Excerpt from DRIVE Magazine Article
High school can be brutal. The pressure to fit in. Deadlines, practices and schedules galor. And, let’s not forget the dances, parties and friends. Sometimes, it can be tough to find balance, and to set the priorities to reach your goals with your livestock projects.
Kyle Coyler, Bruenau, Idaho; AJ Lewis, Center Point, Iowa; Kathryn Kelly, College Station, Texas; and Derick Miller, Seagraves, Texas, have been there. They made the tough decisions in high school, often sacrificing what was “popular” in the eyes of their friends to reach amazing goals in the livestock world.
Really, they say it’s simple. You must have drive. You must have passion. And, you must be willing to make a few tough decision – keeping your eyes on your ultimate goal – to find success in this world.
When Colyer was seven, he began showing Hereford cattle at Idaho Hereford Association shows and field days. As a 4-H and FFA member, he exhibited steers and was active on the livestock judging team.
Colyer also was involved in baseball, basketball and football as a junior high and high school student. During his sophomore year, he was faced with a tough decision – continue with basketball, or attend the major cattle shows in Reno and Denver. He chose the cattle.
“It was a tough decision,” he says. “My coach wasn’t happy if I missed a week or 10 days of practices and games for a cattle show. I made the decision that I was never going to be a college or professional basketball player, and I would much rather go to the shows.”
Lewis faced a similar decision during his high school career. He began showing cattle and hogs through 4-H and FFA. And, as he entered junior high, he became involved in his county livestock judging team. Lewis says he competed on his FFA crops judging, soils judging and parliamentary procedure teams because he was driven by competition.
He was also driven by the competition of starting on the high school varsity football team. However, during his junior year, he was forced to make a difficult decision. After winning the state livestock judging contest, Lewis’ livestock judging team was attending many workouts and contests, and he would be missing football practices.
“The week before our first game, I talked to the coach about potentially missing a couple of practices and a game,” Lewis says. “He told me I had to choose between football or livestock judging. I surprised him when I said I’d turn in my pads. It probably wasn’t the most popular thing to do, and I floored the whole team and my classmates. But, I wasn’t going to make a living playing football.”
Here are some of their top tips for living a driven life.
- Determine what’s important
Kathryn Kelly recommends you determine what is important in your life and then set your sights on that goal. “If winning a belt buckle is priority, be prepared not to hang out with your friends,” she says. “Be prepared to give up the stuff that’s not important.”
- Know your priorities…
Derick Miller says you should move through your to-do list efficiently. “Keep the things you love at the top of your to-do list,” he says. “And do the things you don’t like to do first, so you can get them out of the way.”
- Education comes first.
School should always come first – especially if you’re still in high school, Kelly says. “There isn’t a career on this earth that doesn’t require the basic skills of high school,” she says. “Those skills are the bare minimum to be an informed citizen. School should always be important.”
- Don’t be afraid of a little hard work.
Miller says his life in high school was filled with long days of hard work and dedication. “In the fall, I would get home and either run a pecan shaker or help with cotton harvest, after I worked the lambs,” he says. “I always looked at school like a job, not a vacation.”
- High school isn’t forever.
No matter how important some things seem today, high school doesn’t last forever, Kelly says. “Keep your eye on your post-high school prize,” she recommends.
- Keep a calendar.
Whether it’s a daily or monthly calendar, it’s important to write down important dates on a calendar, Kelly says. “That helps you visualize what’s going on and what’s important,” she says. “That’s the only way to ensure something isn’t going to creep up on you.”
- Make a list and check it twice.
Lewis recommends writing down every goal and task you need to accomplish daily, weekly and for a lifetime. “Write it down, rather than just thinking about it,” he says. “Prioritize the list, and ensure you have everything in the correct order.”
- Get organized.
Lewis says it is important to complete tasks in a logical order, and carry tasks through completion. “Make sure one thing leads to the next, and don’t work on tasks back and forth,” he recommends.
- Keep your eyes on the prize.
Lewis says it’s critical to stay focused on your end goal. “Don’t get too far off track,” he says. “If you know where you want to end up, it will be much easier to accomplish the tasks to take you there.”
- Make time for R&R.
“You simply can’t overdo it all the time,” Lewis says. “Sometimes you just need to relax for a short time. You’ll have a fresh mind and a fresh attitude, and you can then get the most out of your time.”