JP's Daily Dose of Inspiration - #4

A post student emailed me and was sharing with me that he felt that I had inspired him during a bootcamp and he has taken that inspiration and is now using it to inspire others!!! Here is a speech that he gave at DSU that I think is incredible and inspirational!! Dare to do.

What do Doritos and DSU have in common? Actually, what does Doritos, Nike, and Microsoft have in common with DSU?

Think about it and in a moment I’ll answer it.

In 1999, ~9 years ago, was the first time I sat in the place where you students are sitting now and even in the same building. I remember thinking at the time, that this was going to be an exciting and thrilling journey through life and at the same time thinking…

“What did I just get myself into?”…… “Should I even be here?”

Let me explain a little bit. At that time the dot com boom was just beginning and me being a creative person I wanted to jump right in and skip the “edu-tainment”. I embarrassingly even remember saying to Lynette Molstad in our required freshman orientation/success meetings something along the lines of “Michael Dell and Bill Gates didn’t finish college look at how they turned out.” After that meeting I don’t think I showed up for another freshman success meeting. In the end I did graduate with two BS’s, and three minors in four years.

Yes… I did find time to sleep and I was also quite active in on-campus activities and organizations… primarily with Student Senate, serving both positions of President and Vice President.

I’m not telling this just to gloat. Nor am I telling you that you need to do 2 majors and 3 minors. I’m telling you that if I could find time to be involved and apart of the community that DSU has to offer then you too can find time to do anything. Time should not be an excuse to get not involved as there are many opportunities that a student can have at DSU that might not be found on any other campus. Dr. Kevin Streff once told me, you make time to do the things you need/want to do. And that is true whether you are a student, faculty or donor. Whether it is making time to study, exercise, be apart of an organization, start a business, or making time to spend with your spouse, son, daughter, mom, or dad.

Time gives you the ability to take advantage of opportunities. One type of opportunity is the obvious “Be Involved” which include:

  • Being apart of and take lead of an on campus organization, like Student Senate, SIFE by the way congrats to SIFE’s 2nd regional win, PBL, SDEA, and many others that President Knowlton could rattle off.

However there are little known opportunities. And they may need a little more light shed on them.

  • Create a project/open source project that could be used by others and depending on the project could even be used by DSU? My self and 2 others created such a project called Online Academic Course Information System, aka OACIS. Which Basically a WebCT / BlackBoard web application and was used by DSU until the Board of Regents mandated WebCT.

  • Did you know you could get a paper/project published in an academic publication? The previously mentioned project OACIS was also submitted as a professional paper and was approved by ISECON, an education conference. We even were able to go with Tom Farrell and Dr. Wayne Pauli to San Antonio, TX to present it. Which was quite a memorable experience on the river walk!

  • Write a children’s book for disaster preparedness like 18 year old Hannah Watkins in AK.

  • Start a fund to give girls in Tanzanian a chance that many of us take for granted like 22 year old Ashley Shulyer.

These are just some of the opportunities available and what I want all students, faculty, and donors to take out of tonight is that you could just sit, like a bump on a log, and have your years pass you by. OR you could take action and do something. And by doing something I’m not just saying do something with only DSU in mind. Even though Knowlton would like that.

Companies, organizations, and I are daring everyone, students, faculty, and donors, to do something. Unfortunately I believe these sayings, tag lines, or mottos are falling on deaf ears.

Doritos is telling you to “do something”. Nike says “just do it”. Microsoft says “change the world or go home”. And DSU is telling you to __________ “dare to do”.

Now, think for a moment about these tag lines and what they mean and are telling you.

“do something”, “just do it”, “change the world, or go home”, “dare to do”

These lines are blunt and profound yet the majority of people do not act on what they are saying. Dale Carnegie once said “Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”

Many people do not dare to do and become creatures of the common place, the play-it-safers. This is due to several things. Two of which are, not knowing what to do and fear.

Not knowing what to do is usually attributed to not having a path or direction. What I call passion. People falling into this category are usually associated with the feeling of being lost or constantly bored… do you feel that way… the usual answer for this is to find a hobby.

While finding a hobby does work, it doesn’t always or may only work temporarily. I know I’ve fallen into this trap. The reason why is at the time it might sound good but what they have found isn’t congruent with who they are. The less congruence, the less passion and drive you have for what you are trying to do. That is why it is usually best to go back to the basics. The basics of who you are and what is important to you. These are your core values and are usually long lasting and rarely change. Some may know their values, others may not. I didn’t start finding my core values until attending DSU, although I wish I would have started finding mine sooner.

If you don’t know what your core values are, ask yourself the following three questions to help you get started.

  • What do you hold most dear? Friends, Family, Technology, Teaching

  • What are you willing to fight for? Money, Politics, a new idea, your Community

  • What 5 values are most important to you? Values, such as but definitely not limited too, Achievement, Adventure, Affluence, Challenge, Community, Enjoyment, Family, Friendship, Humor, Knowledge, Love, Spirituality, Trustworthiness.

Think about it when you return home and write it down.

If you still don’t know how to answer or your answers feel vague, then you need to step out and leave your comfort zone. Take a risk. Dare to do. Soren Kierkegaard said “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” Let me repeat that last part. “Not to dare is to lose oneself”. In other words, by daring you find yourself and your core values; your passion; your meaning to life.

Tony Dean, a well regarded conservationist, sportsman, brother, father and friend of the family passed away recently. It was definitely not his time and was completely unexpected. He had a complication with his appendix surgery and was flown to Sioux Falls. Almost at two weeks the doctors told him and his family there was nothing else they could do for him and it would probably be best if he was in a comfortable place. Tony said “good then I can shoot geese off my deck.” Which is completely Tony. His wife Dar and family then took him back home so he could see the water and the ducks. One of Tony’s last words were “You know, I’m not afraid.”


Mary Kay Ash once said “Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.”

Knowing Tony for the last 14 years, I know why he wasn’t afraid. He was true to his core values even up to the end. He stood up and took risks even at considerable risk financially and politically. He played his music. He dared to do.

Will you dare to do… or will your music go unplayed?