Have you ever been in conversation with someone or listened to a speaker and all of a sudden they say something that just clicks in your mind and you think, “I have to write that down.” Maybe someone makes a comment with a very twisted sense of logic and you thought “that does not make sense.”
I heard two of those comments in the past couple of weeks that got me thinking. We have a number of employees around our farm and we try to pay well and take care of everyone but some days are just plain hard work. One day, the work lasted about 14 hours. I knew it was tiring, but I also thought, "Wow, those guys made quite a bit of money today." The following morning I had been up for a couple of hours when the employees showed up. When they got to the shop I greeted them with an energetic "good morning," knowing full well they were probably a little tired from the day before. Then it happened. One of them groaned a little and said to me, “You’re lucky I need a job.” That comment struck me instantly. I was the lucky one? I was kind of thinking “You are the lucky one because at least I gave you a job and you are getting paid well!”
A few hours later in the office, I had a meeting with a client who was in his mid-70s. He had an admirable zest for life and appreciation for everything that he had. I simply appreciated all of his energy and positive attitude. One concern that he had was that his kids did not fully appreciate everything that he and his wife had done to grow the farm and provide opportunity to the next generation and beyond. A short time later, I was visiting separately with his farming heir and the farming heir commented that his parents should consider themselves lucky that he came home to farm because he had provided a tremendous amount of value to the farming operation. Again, it clicked in my head. This farming heir thinks his parents are lucky that he came home? Does he not realize that he’s the lucky one because his parents had built a $25 million operation that he has the opportunity to be a part of? Was he really serious? Did he not know how lucky he was?
Now I really had to stop and think. Two separate situations where opposite sides both felt like the other was lucky. Could it be that everyone was lucky, but no one showed enough appreciation or gratefulness? Could it be that I was lucky to have a good employee? Could it be that the employee was lucky to have a good job? Could it be that the farming heir was lucky to have parents with a great farm? Could it be that the parents were lucky to have an heir that wanted to be involved in the farm? I think the answer to all of them is "yes."
So what’s the problem? Maybe all of them were not grateful enough for what they had. Maybe we should also show a little more gratefulness. I should be more intentional about appreciating my employees. Hopefully my employees appreciate the opportunity that I give them. The heirs in a farm family should be appreciate for what their parents have done, and parents should be appreciative for what their children have done. Maybe we’re all more lucky than we think.
Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.