The decisions you make now will affect you for the rest of your life.
That was the message during motivational speaker Eric Chester's presentation Monday morning to Moffat County High School students.
Chester, who lives in Denver, works with companies to help promote and train young workers, and he talks with students about preparing for life after school.
The Moffat County Work and Life Skills Coalition after school program sponsored Chester's presentation.
"I've been to more than 1,500 high schools and middle schools, and more than 1,500 gymnasiums," Chester said to the crowd of MCHS freshmen and sophomores sitting in the gym. "And the thing that always looks the same are the bleachers. And more specifically, the rivets on the bleachers.
"An image comes to my mind of a bleacher riveter. Do you think they wanted to be making the rivets on the bleachers when they were a freshman or sophomore in high school?"
Staying involved in classes is important for entering the workforce, Chester said.
"Eventually - someone will pay you for what you know," Chester said. "The information is all here; it's up to you to decide to take it or ignore it."
Chester used a measuring tape to show students how long life is, and how small decisions now can shape that future.
"The average life is 80 years, and every foot represents a year," he said. "By showing how long the tape is, it gives the students a different perspective."
But, Chester mainly used stories to present his topic to the students.
"I've been on the platform for 23 years, and I've learned that it's stories that resonate," he said.
In addition to his stories, Chester used examples from unlikely sources to show how decisions affect the future.
"All choices a computer makes come from two places," Chester said. "The hard-drive or RAM. And that's something we all have, too.
"We all make 50,000 choices a day," Chester said. "And most of those choices are made from the RAM - boxers or briefs, left or right."
Chester, who founded Generation Why, Inc., a counseling firm, said there are three important factors - vision, decision, and collision - when trying to offer students perspective on their time in high school.
"Vision is how you see yourself - your self esteem, how you want the world to see you," he said. "Decisions are what you do every day - what drives you.
"And collisions are how you treat the people around you. Students will find that it isn't about things; it's all about people and relationships."
Susan Whinery, Work and Life Skills program coordinator, said Chester's message fit with what the Work and Life Skills program has been teaching students.
"I thought he sent a clear message that without careful planning, you end up with something less than the destiny you had in mind," Whinery said. "One thing the Work and Life Skills does is help students develop and reach the goals they've set for themselves."
Whinery said the size of the audience was important.
"In the actual program there are only 10 kids," she said. "But, the entire high school was involved today, and they were able to learn about how choices they make now can affect them in the future."
Having students focus on their future is important, even if they are only freshmen or sophomores, Whinery said.
"I think it's helpful to have younger students thinking how relevant their education is to their lives after high school," Whinery said. "This way they can have more self-direction earlier in their high school careers."
Christina Haxton, a consultant for the Work and Life Skills program, said she thought Chester hit the right chords with the students.
"When I think of the people who have influenced me the most, they usually said something in less than 30 seconds that stuck," Haxton said. "It wasn't the whole presentation that stayed with me, it was always one small thing.
"And I hope Eric was able to give the students one small thing that will stick with them for the rest of their lives."