Don’t roll your eyes at others’ advice

We are bombarded with advice from all directions. It comes first from our parents and family, and then it is spoken by friends, teachers, 4-H advisers, and other adults (like Extension educators!).

We can choose to listen or politely ignore the source. The real difference comes in knowing what exactly sound advice is and what simple chatter is.

It is important to search for those who speak from experiences, both positive and negative, and from resources that have some reliable references to back up what is said.

We have so much access to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, the Web, AND Wikipedia, that this is a much more difficult task than it used to be.

It is natural for another generation to want to grow in a different direction from its predecessors. The question becomes how we move toward a common goal. Do we share a similar vision for the future?

Something to share

I am a baby boomer who finds herself observing and guiding two other generations to a reasonable pattern of decision making. I also spend time with younger co-workers who can, and do, teach me some innovative ways of thinking and yet ask for my thoughts and ideas on personal and professional topics.

Daily, I work with individuals who have bright futures, and yet there is also the potential to head down a misguided path. At the risk of sounding insensitive, the comment of “been there, done that” wants to jump right off the tip of my tongue too often.

I guess I would like others to listen just a bit more intently since I have more of a past and less of a future.

My own family

It is common knowledge that we have progeny involved in the dairy industry. I tend to forget that while the family was growing up, they assumed a different concept of what was happening.

They have heard all the stories about the blizzard in the ’70s, the drought in the late ’80s, and fluctuating milk prices that keep us on our toes. As we worked at the barn together, they were taking notes and today they have formed their own ideas.

I hear them saying they would like to do things differently in parenting AND business. That seems like a natural progression, but the question that matters is are the same principles that made the previous generation successful being applied?

Great read

Regardless of whether you are a parent passing on the farm to the next generation, a 4-H adviser, a teacher or coach, I would like to suggest a simple book to read. Farming with Family Ain’t Always Easy, by veterinarian Mark Andrew Junkin, has a simple approach to providing advice and he regularly speaks on the topic. He also subcontracts with veterinary clinics and facilitates family business meetings to improve decision making.

One of his suggestions is for everyone involved to write 10 commandments that have made the farm successful. He admits this may sound like a corny idea, but that thought process will help to guide the vision and identify values of importance to everyone involved. It can be awkward, but the rule or commandment can be re-visited every time important choices are looming. Dr. Junkin suggests it creates sanity in the crazy process of mixing the generations!

Maybe you aren’t passing on the family farm, but maybe you are involved in some work-related transition, or a change of leadership at school or church. Spend some quality time in understanding how multiple generations can learn from and respect each other. Wisdom could just possibly be a better legacy than money.

Next time we meet, just smile and ask how it is working for me. The answer could be a surprise for both of us.

About the Author

Bonnie Ayers is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. More Stories by Bonnie Ayers

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