Monthly Archives: October 2009

Old Red

I grew up in farm country and we had a little spread in which we had a milk cow, kept a horse, and raised our own beef, pigs, and summer sheep.  We grew our own large garden and pasture hay.  Basically, we were self sufficient and worked the land to provide for the necessities of life.

old-redWhen I was young, my Dad had helped a local farmer frequently with his needs (Dad gave of his time and talent freely) and he one time accepted a barter and received a small old international tractor.  This tractor needed some work, but we fixed it up and it became a great blessing in our small farm life.  With it we could plow, disc, harrow, level, mow, and work the land with a machine instead of by hand.

In the spring time, this machine provided a nice nest egg as I would plow many gardens for a small fee (usually twenty bucks).  She sported a single bottom plow with a hydraulic lift and PTO, the plow really sunk deep and rolled the soil nicely, one row at a time.  After winter, it only took a few rows to polish the plows.   Plow the row, back up in the furrow, and do it over again until done.  Running that tractor was a thrill for a young teen age boy without a license.  The smell of that machine still gives me goose bumps.  It required a hand crank to start; which could break your arm if you didn’t do it right.  It would start on a single crank and ran like a top.

Just a few weeks ago I became the heir of this childhood tractor, and it still runs like a top.  I am going to have it refurbished a bit as it is nearly 70 years old.  Over the years, all of the grandkids of my parents have been given rides and if they were over 8 could drive it with an adult present- this became a favorite activity when visiting the grandparent’s house.  Now great grandchildren have the honor of participating in a piece of history that has served the family for generations.

I was pondering the lessons of old red and was reminded that no harvest was ever reaped without first putting the hand to the plow.  Keeping the plow in the ground is a great symbolism of success.  It can take a while to get the field plowed (especially with a single bottom plow), but the steadfastness of our effort will someday yield a mighty harvest.  Perhaps more important than the harvest is the lesson of it; you’ve got to work the soil and tend to it regularly if you expect it to give back.

Here’s to “Old Red.”  May she turn the fields for another 70 years and continue to remind us of the law of the harvest.

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Posted by on October 22, 2009 in Uncategorized


Go All Out, Man!

All my life, I have tried to fit in to a society that loves eccentric personalities.  I’m not exactly socially outgoing, so fitting in to society means blending into a landscape like the center of a wave of mountain flowers.  Set apart is a phrase I like best to define uniqueness.

I am grateful for the personalities that stand out in uniqueness and are set apart from the norm—-who make me laugh and think and wonder “what if”.  In his poem, “The Layers”,  Stanley Kunitz, he describes a principle of existence that resides in each of us, making us all truly individual.  He calls it “indestructible essence”.

 I believe that each person on the earth has a special purpose and that their personality is unique to act upon that purpose.  I recently read about surfing legend Bob Cooper.  His children say he’s never been afraid to be different, and he instilled that also in them.   He said as surfing became pop culture, “I kind of came along with it.  I’m famous for being famous.”  He never fought who he was.

 Whatever our nature, we can embrace it for being who we really are.  Discovering our purpose and not trying to change the core of our essence will be a gift to ourselves and others who see our true character.

 On a recent road trip, my son Ryan was pumping the gas and across the median from his pump was a man also filling his tank;  in his late thirties, with a wild moss-beard.  He was living in his element, excited about the fresh snow just fallen in his ski town, and his kids were getting season passes.  More than that however, was that he was himself.  He was very outgoing and friendly, and when Ryan was finished pumping gas he said to the man, “Well, I guess I’m going to go in (to the gas store) and fill the other tank”.  He said with a big smile and sincerely “Go all out,  man!” 

 I have decided to act more like my inner-self and experience the freedom that comes from not putting my indestructible essence under wraps.  Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us to live the uniqueness we have been given, come to understand our specific purpose, and as our friend at the gas pump said “Go all out,  man!”

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Posted by on October 12, 2009 in Uncategorized


Taking Comittment to the Next Level

In teaching a class on World Religions, I came across the story of the Khalsa (the pure ones) which became defenders of the faith in Sikhism.  From Religions of the World, by Spencer J. Palmer ETAL, I relate the following story:

Realizing that the Sikh community needed to be strengthened in order to survive, Guru Singh appeared at the spring festival, set up his tent and remained withdrawn from the festivities until the celebration was well under way.  He then emerged suddenly and demanded from among his followers a Sikh who would be willing to give his head for the faith.  From among the hushed multitude a volunteer finally came forward and was taken into the tent; a thud was heard, and Gobind Singh emerged with a blood sword, demanding another person willing to die.  The people were horrified as the same events occurred again and yet again. sikhFinally, after five men had been taken into the tent, Gobind Singh threw back the curtain, revealing all five men alive, along with five decapitated goats.  He than gave a powerful sermon declaring that these five men, who exhibited such courage and commitment in the face of assumed certain death, would be the foundation of the Sikh order called Khalsa.

He later had them drink out of the same cup, and since they were all apparently from different castes, destroyed the caste system.  All were equal and could sit at the same table now.

Holy Cow!  When I read this, I was amazed at such courage and commitment.  I have not been able to get this story out of my head- comparing my own faith and commitment in many areas to these remarkable men.

Certainly no great business leader would ever require commitment to death (save the armed forces, for which I am also very grateful and astounded at their resolve), but this story made me ask the questions: “Am I committed enough?  Do my actions and ethics in all phases of my life show the commitment I have promised?”

From the Khalsa I submit we can learn the following business lessons:

●We can review our commitment and loyalty from time to time, and make the course corrections that would match our actions with our intent.

●We could use their symbols of purity to examine and make sure the details of what we do reflect the vision and values we have ascribed to.

●We can destroy our own “caste” systems by not building silos and by recognizing that every worker contributes greatly to the whole of our success, treating each other as true equals.

Sometimes we think our business leaders are asking for a sacrifice far beyond what we believe is fair,but things are not always as they appear and we would do well to give success the greatest chance by evaluating our personal commitments in all areas of our lives and showing by our actions the highest commitment to the team.

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Posted by on October 2, 2009 in Uncategorized