Thune talks leadership in Girls State speech By Deanna Johnson
Yankton Media, Inc. South Dakota Senator John Thune outlined three qualities of leadership to the members of Girls State Friday night, June 5, while answering questions about a variety of topics relevant to state and national government. Thune spoke in the ballroom of the Muenster University Center at The University of South Dakota to 2009 Girls State attendees about the importance of strong leadership and the need for young people to step in and assume positions of leadership. "I want to encourage you to develop those leadership qualities that you have and continue to cultivate those and look for opportunities to put them to work for the betterment of the people around you," he said. In his speech Thune outlined three basic qualities of leadership that he had observed. Those qualities, he said, are a commitment to excellence, a commitment to character and a commitment to service. He said making the most of the abilities that have been given to a person was an important step towards leadership. Thune related a personal story about missing a game-winning shot in a basketball game while he was growing up in Murdo. He went on to explain that when things do not always go the way that was planned, there is always "another season." "If you make the most out of what you've been given, if you give it the best along the way, then however it comes out, you can be satisfied with the result," Thune said. He said everyone has their own unique abilities, and no matter what those abilities may be one can always succeed if they commit themselves to excellence. The senator went on to say that along with striving for excellence goes respect for others, playing by the rules and taking responsibility for actions, all qualities of a person's character. "Character defines the kind of person you are. That's how you're going to be remembered after you're gone. Character's how you're going to be defined as a person," Thune said. The desire to do what is popular instead of what is right was the Republican senator's next topic. He said the need to be well liked should never come before making decisions based on one's values. "I'm going to tell you that in life you're going to face a lot of decisions and the temptation a lot of times is going to be to do the popular thing, to compromise," Thune said. "But I want to encourage you to have the courage to do the right things. Stay true to your beliefs, to your values." Thune's final point was to remind those at Girls State to commit themselves to the service of others. He said life is not about what is gotten out of it, but what is put into it. "It's not about you. That's something I think we all have to remember. If you make life about yourself, then you're not probably going to make a big difference in the lives of the people around you," he said. After his brief address, Thune replied to questions posed by a few members of Girls State. One question asked concerned the recovering from the current national debt. Thune responded by saying that excessive spending was to blame for the debt of the country. "There was an old rule when I was growing up that you can't spend what you don't have," he said. "But in this country, if we don't have it, we just borrow it. The best way to get that under control is to get that spending under control." Thune, reminding the girls that he grew up in a small town, pushed them to aspire to great things and to not restrict themselves and their dreams. "I want to encourage you to look beyond your horizons. Don't be limited by the expectations of others. Don't let other people fit you into their mold. Be the person that you were destined to be," he said.