By Kate Miller
Showing livestock is not like most team sports. You don’t have a uniform, you don’t have to attend group practice. You don’t have a team captain. But leadership in this activity is as important as on any other field. Here are four simple ideas to practice your leadership skills, and just maybe improve your show experience.
Check your attitude.
Life is 10% about what happens to us and 90% about how we react to it. – Charles Swindoll. Isn’t that the truth? Show day is a time of high stress for parents and exhibitors. It is a potential land mine for frustration. You can choose to fight with your mom about your hair or wrinkled shirt. You can argue with dad about when to head to the makeup area. Or as a family you can choose to make the day you have been working toward less stressful simply by adjusting your attitude. This sets an example to your siblings and to other families that it can be done with grace, and you’ll find the day is more enjoyable too.
Watch your words.
How often on a bad day in the ring, do we find ourselves speaking words that we might not want repeated to our grandmothers. Most often the source of this frustration comes down to bad mouthing the judge. WE accuse him of being blind, dumb and in someone’s political pocket. We have all been there and heard that. But is that showing leadership? Not by a long shot. As a parent or an exhibitor, the words we speak are the house we live in. What is the lesson in complaining that the show was rigged? Are you setting a standard of entitlement? Or are you showing an example of sportsmanship?
Lend a hand.
Camaraderie is what makes livestock shows such an enjoyable event. You see friends from all across the country, you get to spend time with likeminded people and it all centers around a shared occupation. But this sport isn’t just sitting on the sidelines, it takes work and resources. If you see someone struggling, offer to help. Whether it is the new junior who hasn’t figured out how the show stick works yet, or maybe it’s a parent who has a work emergency and needs someone to help watch the kids. Volunteer and do more than you’re asked.
Be nice to the new guy.
When I showed up to my first show (back when the earth was cooling), I had an infamous orange milk crate with a rice root brush and a scotch comb. That is it. No fancy show box. No high tech equipment. Just a green broke Angus bull (who got loose coming off the trailer) and that orange milk crate. My mom also dressed me in hot pink Wrangler Riatas. I always thought it was to make sure I didn’t make any friends, but she claims she bought them on sale. To put it mildly, we stood out for all the wrong reasons.
But I got lucky. Some people in the barn were nice to us. They took me under their wing. They taught me about the necessities, helped me find a good show camp to start learning the basics, and eventually even helped me convince my mom to get rid of those pants. Had it not been for the kids and parents that befriended the really weird new people, I am not sure I would have continued on in a junior livestock program. I owe them all the amazing experiences that followed.
You too, as an adult or as a junior, have the opportunity to change someone’s experience. Resist the urge to be cliquish. Bring someone up.
You never know how your attitude will impact another person. Especially if you are an experienced senior showman or a parent. Little eyes are watching you, are you setting a good example?
What other ways is leadership important in the barn? Comment below with your suggestions!