Students Encouraged To Strive For Lifelong Self-Improvement | Community

The speaker at Friday’s recognition ceremony at RTEC encouraged students to devote themselves to a lifetime of good decisions.

The event recognized two groups of students: one completed a summer training in factory and entrepreneurial skills through Yankton Manufacturing & Entrepreneurial Academy (YMEA), while a smaller group completed the Chart Your Career Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate Program.

Featured speaker Tiffany Sanderson, the South Dakota Secretary of Education, has a background in education policy, Career and Technical Education, workforce development, staff development and learning design. She began by praising students for investing a portion of their summer vacation to learning and growth, exploring new skills and career opportunities.

“There’ll be times in your adulthood, far down the road, that you reflect on these two weeks, and all the value you experienced and how this experience has really enriched your lives,” she said. “(In high school), I was a Career and Technical Education student interested in agriculture. Even though I don’t work directly in agriculture right now, I continue to rely on the skills that I built in high school in my career today, and I am so thankful that experience existed for me.”

Sanderson also shared a piece of advice that Dave Hakstol, University of North Dakota hockey coach for 11 years, before taking the reigns of the NH:’s Seattle Kraken, gave recently at her son’s hockey camp.

“Three things: one, routine and discipline; two, do the hard stuff; and three, rest,” she said. “What are the little things you learned in the last two weeks that you can build on? What discipline do you have to do your very best going forward? Only discipline helps us be our very best.”

Choosing to do the hard things rather than taking the easy way is what it takes to be great, Sanderson pointed out.

“Those are conscious decisions that we have to make throughout our lives as adults and in our careers,” she said. “Do the hard things that help you do the very best, and from our very best, we are fulfilled personally. It’s a great spot to live and work in.”

Rest involves taking the time to let your body recover, but also let your mind reflect on the situation.

“What’s gone well, and how do we replicate that? What hasn’t gone well and how do we fix that?” Sanderson said. “The same is true as we pursue our careers. There are moments where we just have to step back and think about (that).”

Hakstol’s remarks put into perspective how people can adjust and continue forward in a very productive way, she said.

Sanderson also talked about the concept of Aggregation of Marginal Gains as put forth by author James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits.”

“Clear talks about a company that worked on making 1% improvements every day,” she said. “If we think about where we’re at right now and how we go forward to get better every day and do that by 1%, that means that we’re talking about investing 14-15 minutes every day in ourselves for (improving).”

In Clear’s anecdote, initial returns are negligible but compound dramatically over time.

Sanderson used $10 worth of rolled pennies (1,000 pennies total) to illustrate the results obtained when you devote 1% of your time each day toward becoming better. In her example, day one yielded a penny, day two saw two pennies and day three yielded four. However, by day 10, her volunteer held 512 pennies and would have held 1,024 pennies — 24 more than Sanderson had —after the 11th day.”

“It’s really easy for us to get caught up in the day to day the busy-ness, all of the hectic pieces of work and kids and making sure life happens,” Sanderson said. “We are better (when we) commit to investing in ourselves and others across time.”

Sanderson left the graduates with one thought about the time left to them before school starts in August.

“If you invest 15 minutes a day (in yourself) over the eight weeks, it’s going to give you 13-14 hours,” she said. “If you start now investing in yourself, suddenly you (will be) 13-14 hours better at something, better at being you. It’s just 15 minutes.

“Imagine, what if (you spent) an hour of figuring out how to be a better version of yourself?”

Twenty students participated in this year’s camp, which was sponsored and supplied by several area businesses and entities.