Skip to main content



At this time our thoughts are often thrust into pondering meaningful ways to focus the upcoming year.  We are bombarded with things others feel we should “value” but these decisions should be personal.  A couple of years ago I shared my New Year’s resolutions with my wife & she in turn shared hers. At the top of her list was having more patience but the one that sticks in my mind is this…

“I will love myself…..after I lose 5 pounds!”🤣

Too funny, but telling at the same time.  We often don’t give ourselves permission to accept where we are on life’s journey without some kind of condition(s).  Of course, we could always eat better, work out more, etc. but we shouldn’t come to love ourselves just because we do them.  We should begin with a deep appreciation of who we are as the foundation & decide what we need to do to improve, not the other way around.  Easy to say, hard to do.

A few years ago, I discovered the following personal mission statement carved below a statue of Merlin Olsen outside the Utah State football stadium where he played.  He says…

“The focus of my life begins at home with family, loved ones & friends.  I want to use my resources to create a secure environment that fosters love, learning, laughter & mutual success.  I will….

Protect & Value Integrity

Admit & Quickly Correct My Mistakes

Be a Self-Starter

Be a Caring Person

Be a Good Listener with an Open Mind

Continue to Grow & Learn

Facilitate & Celebrate the Success of Others”

Merlin Olsen (September 15, 1940 – March 11, 2010)

You’ll notice he begins with aspects of others first, this recognizes the example of how we live our lives has a direct impact on those around us. This is clearly a choice for leadership; to take care of those closest to us first in our diverse life roles of son/daughter, sibling, spouse, parent, colleague, etc.


Protect & Value Integrity; this is first for good reason.  If we don’t figure out what we stand for we’ll fall for any passing fad that comes along.  Your character should not be situational, remain steadfast to protect it!  To value your own integrity is to keep it in the forefront of how you live each & every day.

Admit & Quickly Correct My Mistakes; we are all human and will always make mistakes.  Admission & correction gives us permission to fail while encouraging others to remain positive in the face of change.  We often forget change has to happen if things are going to move forward, it’s as constant as time passing.  Encourage a healthy curiosity.  One must fall down to keep learning!

Be a Self-Starter; this is essential for lifelong learning.  Our development is not linear but organic, like agriculture, always growing.  We can learn something from every situation we find ourselves involved in if we are open to receiving.  Move past the negative, self-defeating emotions & discover the value.  Learning what not to do can be just as valuable as what to do!

Be a Caring Person; well, he was certainly this.  As a member of the “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line with the NFL’s Rams he could be intimidating but his work outside football paints a different picture.  Would a mean person work for FTD selling flowers? Showing you care for others shows you love yourself enough to be vulnerable & open with your emotions so it’s OK for them to be.  Being the first one to say “I love you” in any way opens the door for true connection & the best leaders know you have to start there to get extension of teammates talents.  He did this with his family, friends & anyone who came in contact with him.  Perhaps this was his true superpower!

Be a Good Listener with an Open Mind; this is a skill that seemed to come easy for him.  In an increasingly fast-paced world we can become distracted in a moments notice.  You can’t replace or underestimate the value of human interaction.  Being truly present creates deep connections that are the foundation of understanding & eventually trust!  We all have the power to make this a part of our everyday leadership activities.

Continue to Grow & Learn; striving for lifelong improvement speaks to not only education but also personal growth.  Making self-reflection a habit is the hallmark of all impactful leaders.  He certainly had impact on & off the field just as we can.

Facilitate & Celebrate the Success of Others; he opens & closes with a focus on others. Deciding to look after the people around you consistently takes a ton of energy.  What you give others will come back to you in spades if done authentically with compassion.

After reading his mission statement, the idea of New Year’s resolutions took on a whole different meaning.  It’s my hope that we all get to a place where we can love ourselves & be courageous in sharing that love with others. Maybe, just maybe, our actions will encourage others to do the same.  If you make no other resolutions except re-committing to your version of these you’ll have done enough.

Happy New Year!

Add Comment

Comments (0)


About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

Link copied to your clipboard.