“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” says Aaron Davis, wide receiver for the University of Nebraska’s 1994 NCAA Division 1-A championship team. “Be careful who you chill with.”
Davis was the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony of the recent State 4-H Congress in Columbia. He is now a motivational speaker and author of the self-help book “10 Minute Truths.” He challenges individuals to “perform like champions every day.”
Davis’ future was bright in 1994 when he helped the Nebraska Cornhuskers on their path to victory. However, influenced by “friends” and falling victim to drugs and alcohol, he quit the team and school after his grade point average fell to 1.73. He did not earn a second championship ring, something that still pains him today.
But he picked himself up, earned a degree in psychology and became an author and owner of a consulting firm and other successful businesses.
Summer’s freedom often leads teens into temptations that compromise their values, he said, and each summer he worries about the choices youth will make.
“It’s easy to compromise a little bit here and there,” he said. That’s when trouble begins. “It’s not if it’s going to catch up with you. It’s when.”
Davis said personal experience taught him how a little compromise can lead to a lot of heartache. He says he fell away from the faith and principles taught to him by his father, a man with a ninth-grade education who worked as a janitor for 40 years and inspired all of his children to earn college degrees.
His father continually warned him about “fakeship” friendships with three words: “Trouble they are.”
Despite that, being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people led him to ignore his father’s advice, he says. Now a husband and father himself, he warns teens against dismissing the wisdom and experience of their parents. “Those people who love you know the lay of the land better. They’re not sweating you. They’re loving you,” he said.
Davis said he encourages discipline and respect in his home. “There no iPhones or iPads at the dinner table. It’s just eyeballs,” he said.
And parents are not your friends; they are parents, he said. He continues to call adults by “Mr. and Mrs.,” and “Ma’am” and “Sir” are titles of choice. “I don’t think respect ever gets old-fashioned,” he said.
Davis also advised 4-H’ers to limit their Facebook postings. “Be careful about what you post. Everything you do is not a moment that you post,” he said. He cautioned 4-H’ers that prospective employers and college admissions counselors review social media sites. “Don’t allow something you did for a few seconds affect you all of your life.”
Davis has served on the Nebraska 4-H Foundation board and has three children who show pigs at the Dawson County 4-H Fair.
4-H is “not just about cows and plows,” he said, noting that it has offered his children opportunities to hone their leadership skills and exposed them to people from diverse backgrounds.