[January 24, 2018] Lessons on leadership can be found in the darndest places and teenagers are quick to learn them under the right circumstances. One of my many small jobs as a young boy was picking up cow manure from my neighbor’s farm and moving it to his wife’s garden.
Like so many odd jobs that boys and girls have when growing up, I learned several valuable things about cleaning up after cows. Cows, the big bovines that produce milk, are really big and they produce a large amount of manure; much more than I ever could have imagined. On the positive side was that I learned to value reliability … showing up to work on time, being ready to go when I got there, and working smart.
“The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive and passion, it’s possible to achieve the American dream.” – Tommy Hilfiger, American fashion designer
I certainly did not have the desire or passion to pick up cow manure but the farmer’s daughter did provide me with some sweet motivation. Yet it was the farmer that really gave me what I would have for a lifetime. Sure, I learned about cows; how to milk them, take care of their health needs, etc. There were also long talks about life with the farmer and how he’d built up his land from nothing.
He taught me that working smart was the trick to success in life. Being at work every day on time and doing things the easy way over hard or stupid ways. Too many farmers, he said, over-mechanized their farms and didn’t take into account that cows would produce less milk unless there was a “welcoming” setting for them.
I really didn’t like “shoveling shit in Louisiana” as General George S. Patton once famously told his men that was the alternative to being a soldier. What working on the farm also taught me was that this was something that I didn’t want to do all my life. It was one of the reasons I chose the profession of the soldier. Not that I was better than others, far from it, but that I could do more good soldiering.
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