With Career Development Events and Leadership Development events well under way, it is easy to focus on what went well or what we could have done better this season. While self-reflection is a good technique for improving and working to better ourselves, we should also take a step back to understand that the goal of contests is growth.
Don’t get me wrong. I like winning, but it’s not always in moments of success that we develop or grow. During my sophomore year of high school, I was competing on the agricultural issues team. Our team placed first at area and then as alternate at districts. Needless to say, I was heartbroken because our goal of competing at state had come to an abrupt end. I quickly began exploring other options and landed on submitting a research project (in partnership with one of my Ag Issues teammates) within Agriscience Research – Animal Systems examining different types of filler feeds. With our agri-science project, we placed first at state, applied to go to nationals and placed second overall!
It would have been very easy to take the loss and end my contest season. Instead, I used it as a chance to learn, and then move forward to seek additional opportunities. During this project, I learned that I enjoyed and respected research so much that I am looking to pursue it in college. Sometimes, it is the less-than-stellar moments that help us most in the long run!