Baseball hall of famer Ryne Sandberg said his dad always told him, “Keep your nose clean, your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open because you might learn something.”
“Watch, listen, and learn,” adds Donald Trump. “You can’t know it all yourself; anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity.”
And Bill Gates says, “Life is not fair; get used to it.”
Advice. We get it every day and we forget it every day.
I’ve always been fascinated by what motivates or inspires others, particularly successful entrepreneurs, leaders or farmers. Is there something, some words of wisdom, that drives them?
The “Best Advice” feature you see in this week’s paper brewed in my idea file for several years. It’s long overdue. But as the first responses trickled in, writer Kristy Hebert said, “I think it would be interesting for you to share your own response in your column when we publish this, Susan.”
I’ve got to come up with some deep advice that has inspired me?
The first thing I could think of was: Beggars can’t be choosers.
Those were the words I heard my dad saying in my head when I was a hot stuff freshman at Miami University. Paying my way through school meant a lot of loans and grants, but I wasn’t on campus long before I realized I needed a job to make ends meet.
Off to university food service, the largest employer. They’d have something for me.
They did. Come back at 2 o’clock.
I did. And they put a mop in my hands.
I was mortified. I didn’t come to college to mop floors! Thank heavens the dining room was closed and no one could see me. I finished my shift, went back to my dorm room, and cried.
But those words echoed in my head, so I went back for my Sunday shift.
They handed me an apron, gloves and spatula and told me to start scraping the plates. And this time, other students in their preppy monogrammed sweaters and Izod shirts could see me.
I finished my shift, went back to my dorm room, and cried.
But those words echoed in my head, so I went back. And mopped dirty floors and scraped food scraps for the next four months. At the end of December, I was rewarded with a different job for the next semester, the coolest job you could get in food service: the ID checker.
Life was good.
The life lesson was better. I am not too good to do the most menial of tasks. Someone has to. It’s like the wonderful quote from A.B. Graham that Bill Phillips shares on page 2: When you see apples at the top of the barrel, always remember that they are held on top by all those apples you do not see.
And it’s about resiliency, commitment to responsibilities, and being willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done (pay for college).
Even better advice. Fast forward five years from that college term to my first year at Farm and Dairy. I wasn’t here long before I heard the words that guide me still today.
Elden Groves, who was Farm and Dairy’s editor and heart and soul from 1942 to 1982, told me, “Everyone has a story.”
Everyone has a story.
I’ll never tire of telling them.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)