Being involved in the business of agriculture can be stressful and time consuming. We're constantly focused on productivity, efficiency, marketing, and profit margins. These are all extremely important focal points and necessary to the success of our businesses. On the other side of our business spectrum are the family members, partners, employees, friends, and neighbors. Our relationships with the people we are surrounded by are truly the lifeblood of our businesses. The people we are surrounded by teach us as individuals how to properly interact, communicate, assist, care for, and even love. This realization hit me after my dad passed away on Saturday evening. Over the years he taught me three important traits which can help us all to be better people. These traits are, character, integrity, and love.
I've realized as I reflect on my relationship with dad, character is the term that defines a person's true being. Dad was the type of person who always wanted to do everything right. He always expected deep green corn, weed free fields, straight rows (before auto steer) and high yields. He expected everyone to always do their best, give all you could give, and “get your work done.” His expectations of everyone were high because his expectations of himself were high. He always kept a close eye on the neighbors, (he did have three pairs of binoculars). At the end of almost every day dad would drive around the country side to see what everyone was up to. I used to think he was just nosy. As I've matured, I now realize his true motivation. It never failed, if someone in the community needed a hand, was short a couple wagons at harvest, got a tractor stuck, or just needed a piece of equipment to finish a project, he knew it. He was always there to lend out any additional support he could to help others. He was a true provider.
Integrity was another virtue that I realized dad demonstrated throughout his life. Here are a couple examples of integrity in action. Dad was a sales representative for Pioneer Hi Bred for more than 22 years. He loved working with the people and helping them to improve their crop production. He was willing to spend the time necessary to truly understand the specific needs of his customers. He was also very honest with his customers. Sometimes I wondered if he might offend someone. On the other hand, his direct approach and his honesty gave him tremendous credibility. He was also very focused on providing more than what anyone expected. If he told you that he was going to do something, he would deliver, you could count on him every time.
Love is probably the most difficult trait of them all. We rarely link the word love and business in the same sentence let alone the same context of an article. However, my dad lived his life by co-mingling love and business together constantly. Dad loved seeing equipment roll across the fields stirring up the dust of productivity. He loved teamwork; he liked to know that multiple operations were being done at the same time. He loved the days when everyone was working together; as he called it, “we're getting something accomplished now”. Everyone expresses their love in many different ways. Dad's expression of love rarely came from words. His expressions almost every time came from a smile, a twinkle in his eye, and a wink. Another way he would show his appreciation in later years was to drive by the fields with his old 1992 Crown Victoria Ford. He'd pull in the driveway and Park as you were finishing up the field. In order to leave the field you'd have to pull up to him, get out of the tractor and answer at least 10 questions about what was going on that day. That was his way of showing affection and appreciation for what we were doing on the farm. He always considered everyone that worked on our farm or partnered with us as family. He loved his family and he loved farming.
I hope I’ll be able to leave character, integrity and love to my family as part of my legacy. What traits will your legacy leave?
Next week I'll get back to work with the normal Margins & Business Management information.
Dad would expect it!