Dr. Larry Eastland, an alum of our political science department and this year’s college Honored Alumni, believes in young adults, particularly those at BYU, because they have the opportunities and resources to change the world. Though he’s had a storied and impactful life since his graduation, he credits the decisions he made between the ages of 18 and 30 with the most importance in his life because they were ones that have allowed him to impact and change the world. Last week, he spoke to a group of current students about the five major decisions that he has made, and that all individuals within these years usually have to make, and how best to make them:
The Top Five Decisions of a Lifetime
- Education. Each individual must choose to continue their learning in some form or another even after organized education. People must ask themselves what is worthwhile for them to spend their time on.
- Develop and nurture your testimony. When life is easy, you have to decide if you will stick with the gospel when things get tough. When Dr. Eastland was going through Marine Corps. training and was ridiculed and punished for being a Mormon, he stayed firm in his testimony and succeeded in difficult situations because he had already decided to be true to his testimony. “Testimony is an everyday thing,” he said, “and you must make the daily decision to strengthen, believe, and live it or not.”
- Protect your marriage. First, make the decision to marry and then to marry someone who will challenge you to do your best every day. The blessings and happiness from this decision will bless your family for generations to come. Then, protect your marriage at all costs.
- Live worthy of your family. Be worthy of your spouse, your children, and what and how they are doing—protect them at all costs.
- Profession. Be prepared with the knowledge and skills to get the job you want and make your knowledge and skills transferable. Most individuals will have numerous occupations throughout the career so make sure that what you choose to study and the skills you choose to develop can be applicable and helpful in multiple fields.
Decisions are Not Necessarily About Their End Results
Decisions need to be made so that we can continue progressing in our lives, but as Dr. Eastland shared, we make certain decisions in life not because of their end results, but because those decisions will give us the experiences we need to to find joy in this life and to fulfill our Heavenly Father’s goals. When Dr. Eastland worked in Washington D.C., he didn’t realize until later in his career that he had been placed there so that one day he could stand as a witness of the church and make sure that the Missouri Extermination Order was not expunged from national history but that it was preserved and brought to light. Likewise, when Dr. Eastland was impressed to move his family from Washington to Idaho to pursue an experience that did not succeed, he learned that experiences often lead us to more experiences that allow us to gain the necessary perspective to make the world a better place.
Eleven Rules for Great Leadership Decisions
The path we follow in life is always of our own choosing. The decisions we make when we are between the ages of 18-30 will dramatically determine this path and the joy we experience. If we make them well, chances are that we will be chosen to lead others at some point in our lives. Dr. Eastland shared 11 rules that will help us become great leaders through the decisions we make:
- Officers eat last. Know that the privilege of command and leadership is that you take care of your people first.
- Never expect of those around you that which you are not willing to do yourself.
- If you don’t set concrete, measurable, achievable goals, you will never achieve them. Know your goals so that when you have to change your plans you know why you did so.
- You are only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself with. Remember that first class people will always find ways to make an idea first class, so work with first class people.
- If your people have no part in the process, they will have no stake in the outcome. Involve others in what you are doing so that they feel ownership and responsibility for what is being done.
- Praise in public, punish in private.
- To get people to work with you, you need to be able to say three things and mean them: I need your help. I won’t forget. Thank you very much.
- Trust– but verify.
- Never take “title” to someone else’s problem or assignment.
- When someone brings you a good idea, ask them to put a plan together to implement it. Allow others to be a part of what you are doing.
- Email is for information. Personal contact is for inspiration. Create a relationship, serve, and people will listen to you.
To view the whole lecture, click here.
What decisions do you need to make in your life to gain experiences you need to continue progressing? Are your decisions helping you to serve and lead others?