I am proud to be an Iowa farm girl.
My dad was a farmer and ancestrally Swedish. Scandinavians are known for their proverbial sayings based on common sense, and my dad was no exception. Some of his sayings had a farm nuance, while others had a Christian undercurrent. Most were simply reminders about caring for others, using common sense, and working hard. When we were kids, my siblings and I would just shake our heads when he would rattle off one of these wise little nuggets, but these sayings followed me throughout my life and have never steered me wrong.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
This is the “golden rule.” Treat others as you want to be treated—with respect and care.
Keep your nose clean
Dad said it every time we left the house. It means to stay out of trouble. Do the right thing! I really like to have fun (so did my dad!),
but this saying reminds you to establish boundaries, set limits, and follow ethics.
If all your friends jumped off a bridge…
You are likely familiar with this old adage. Well, on the farm we say a bit differently…
“If all your friends put their heads into a bucket of manure, would you do it too?” My dad probably would have used a stronger word
than “manure,” but what he was really saying is: Be a leader, not a follower. Don’t listen to the crowd. With all the influences of social
media, this saying is even more important today. Think for yourself. Don’t believe all you read or hear. Dig deeper than the soundbite.
Be a good steward with your time, talent, and treasure
If you’ve been endowed with a talent in athletics, music, art, scholastics—whatever it is—do it to the best of your ability. Moreover, use those talents for good. I have volunteered my accounting skills and acted in the role of treasurer for many nonprofit associations. Please donate your talent. These organizations need your skills, your volunteerism, and your contributions.
Work on Sunday, fix on Monday
Farming six days a week was hard work, and we needed a day for relaxation. You will need it, too. If you don’t, the quality of your work will suffer on Monday, and so will the quality of your life. Take it from the farmers who know best!
Maria Rydberg Turner is a managing director at AArete in Chicago, Ill.