The Ayars theory: E = mc2


With all due respect, move over, Einstein. I have developed my own theory of relativity as it relates to positive youth development.

Endurance = Motivation x Challenge squared.

At each 4-H dairy event this year, I have observed youth in the learning environment and I am curious as to what methods are used to teach effectively. It is not one size fits all, as each 4-H’er is prompted to learn differently.


However, I feel that my theory includes those that lead to success. Allow me to explain the equation.

Although we often have been told that “E is for effort,” it lacks substance when compared to endurance.

Long before Einstein proved his theory of relativity, he had to learn endurance. Most references on the subject refer to the physical training of athletes, but when I think of endurance, in terms of emotional and social development, endurance is a basic need. Perhaps it cannot be measured on a standardized test, but I know it is measurable by the outcomes observed.

Quite simply, endurance is persistence.


There is nothing more glaring to than the words, “but it’s not fair.” We have all heard it AND used it.

Life can present some enormous challenges and giving up or giving in is easy when problems cannot be simply solved. Effort can quickly evaporate. Endurance is the attribute that allows us the spirit to “tuff it out” when faced with pressure. It can’t be purchased online, in a store, but must be earned.

As I have coached aspiring judges, it is easy to observe their frustration when learning endurance. When it is acquired, that struggle can lead to positive self-esteem that will build with each succeeding challenge in life.

Hold on though… endurance skills also apply to showmanship, clipping and fitting, communication with consumers, and that first year of college.

Motivation is the magical element of the equation. How can we develop, encourage, and teach it? How can we push kids to work more and harder?


Parent, advisers, and mentors who can successfully implement these ideas deserve to be cloned. Motivation literally begins with a dream and/or a vision that can develop by setting realistic goals.

Beginning with the end in mind is the first step. On that path, mistakes are made, but even these are opportunities for learning. Sometimes the most motivated individuals can become distracted, but that is why we learn to prioritize tasks.

And, last but not least, a competitive event can be an overwhelming motivator. The competition removes the energy from “I can’t” and channels it into the enthusiasm of “I can.”

Whatever the key to motivation is, perhaps it is grounded in building solid relationships with motivators.


Motivation is tested when challenges are introduced. You can also call them problems or difficult decisions. They are present in every phase of life and must be addressed if motivation is to take place. Admittedly, youth and adults alike possess different skills and abilities, but the one skill that will link motivation and challenge is discipline. It is a habit.

All the Dr. Phil show advice, all the self-help books, all the workshops in the world cannot replace this core attribute. It is a driving force for success that affords us the skills to accept and conquer challenges.


The Ayars theory of endurance will probably not be remembered much beyond this article. Ideas like mine are a dime a dozen. Proven or not, let me leave you with a final thought.

Just know that I BELIEVE in E=mc2 and I have had countless opportunities to observe it happening. The practice has taught endurance.


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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.



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