I grew up in South Dakota so my perception of Texas is looking in from the outside. From this perspective, I find that collectively Texans are proud of their Texas heritage, their sports teams, and any Texan who makes it big in the world. Individually Texans show pride in their family heritages, their childrenís sports teams, and any family member who makes it big in their community. Youíll find this is true in South Dakota too, but somehow everything is bigger in Texas.

As a South Dakotan, I do not understand the Texas concept of barbeque, how to drawl, or all that a quinceanera entails. I enjoy hiking in the Texas piney woods, driving in the every-changing countryside, and meeting a variety of people who make Texas their home.

As an outsider, it would be easy to say, ďThat is not how we do things in South DakotaĒ and ignore the nuances that make Texas unique.† Changing the world, however, requires intentionally stepping into someone elseís shoes.

See if you can step into my shoes for a moment. Iím a rather small white lady who grew up in a tiny farming community in South Dakota (home of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and the Badlands). If I talk about South Dakota, I sound like a Dakotan. My family was not wealthy. We spent a lot of time outside exploring. We raised Beagles and learned to shoot. My big brother (now a Texas police officer) taught me to read and play chess. We were taught that each person has great intrinsic worth and deserves our respect. Do you have at least your toe in my shoe?

Each person has a story. As you go about your day, pause for a moment to see if you can look at a person and read a little bit of his or her story.† It is not a waste of time! No sitcom will ever match the uniqueness of each personís story. It is amazing how once in a while a stranger becomes an individual becomes a friend. †

How can you step into another personís shoes?† Read a book, watch a documentary, follow a blog, invite someone to have coffee with you, or simply say hello to the person when you meet in a store or at the gym. Each contact can teach you something about that personís world. Each connection will expand your own world.

I continue to meet amazing people in Ellis County. Please contact me at

elliscoworldchangers@yahoo.com to let me know about Ellis County world changers you know.

Beth Wheaton, Ph.D. is the founder of Equip the Saints, a nonprofit consulting organization, and an Economics Lecturer at Southern Methodist University.