I’ve watched some of the Olympics over the past few weeks. Although there may be controversy surrounding these events, I have chosen to focus on the time and effort of the athletes, many of whom have sacrificed so much to compete in this competition.
While watching the skating, the announcers were discussing one of Australia’s skaters who returned from serious injury and then illness to give his best and show the result of years of training and focus on the smallest details.
I think of the countless hours of training, planning and practice that each of them has put in with the goal of being better every time. It’s easy for me to observe and criticize mistakes and think about how easily the athlete makes it look while acknowledging that there are so many details of a performance that I don’t understand or even I don’t notice that can have a huge impact on a goal.
This past weekend, Barton County 4-H members participated in our 4-H Club Day. This event offers young people the opportunity to showcase their communication skills through demonstrations, illustrated lectures, public speaking and skits. Just as athletes don’t magically have all the skills to successfully launch themselves into the air in a skating competition, public speakers don’t automatically have all the skills to effectively plan, organize and share their thoughts and their ideas. It starts small and they improve their skills with feedback from others. In both cases, it takes many hours of practice and a concern for consistency to be better.
I loved skating as a little girl, but my dual skates and lack of natural ability were not going to make me a champion skater. Similarly, not all of us will feel comfortable addressing large crowds or even small crowds. But each of us can work on skills to improve our communication with others on a daily basis. We can channel some of these Olympians as we strive to find mentors who will give us candid and honest feedback as well as opportunities to improve our own communication skills.
Keep learning. Continue to show grace and kindness.
Michelle Beran is the 4-H and Youth Development Officer for the Cottonwood District, Barton County office. For more information on this article or other issues related to 4-H youth and development, email Michelle at [email protected] or call 620-793-1910.