1.12.2017 | printed in the Fall 2016 issue of VITAL magazine
I love agronomy. If you’ve read my articles in the past or seen me speak on TV or in person, you likely already know that I am usually on point…agronomy, agronomy, agronomy.
Perhaps my favorite Bible verse is from Colossians 3:23. It says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men.”
Six years ago, I became the head coach of my son’s baseball team, just to help out. We went about things that year the way things had always been done, and I came to two conclusions. One, we stunk, and two, just like the Bible verse above says, if I’m going to be involved in something, I should give it everything I’ve got.
For the past five seasons, the baseball team I’ve coached from our little town of 1000 people has done really well, including winning a state championship this year. Right after we won I told the boys I was done coaching, but I wanted them to apply the same lessons we had talked about for the past few years in everything they do. I said achieving success in school, work, family life, or anything else is the same as in baseball. Here are a few of my key points.
1) You’ve got to put the hours in.
Our baseball team practiced seven or eight months each year. Most other teams practiced three or four months. My dad always told us we would never be successful at anything if we only worked 40 hours per week. I have studied some of the best farmers in the country. In many cases, yes, they may be smarter than the rest of us, but in almost all cases, they are simply outworking us.
2) Study during your “off time.”
When the boys were young, they hardly knew the game of baseball. I told them to play baseball video games and go watch baseball games. We also trained them in umpiring and all the rules of baseball, but all these things were in addition to normal practice time. In farming, there’s so much great stuff to read or educational seminars to attend or for that matter, go visit great farmers around the country. The more you study, the more successful you’ll be.
3) Don’t be afraid to innovate.
With baseball, we did some unconventional things and tried new techniques that later, many others adopted. On the farm, you’ve got to take a percentage of your acres each year to experiment. If you think there is a better way to do things, there often is, but you’ve got to prove it on a small scale first.
4) Be thankful every day.
Before every baseball game we had a team prayer, which always started with “thank you.” On the farm, commodity prices, cash rents, interest rates and input costs may not be where you would like them to be, but we still have to be thankful every day that we get to live and farm in the greatest country in the world.
Here is the last thing I hope I impressed upon the boys. Like you have often heard before:
5) You can’t be great at everything.
However, there’s no reason you can’t be great at a few things if you really devote your time and your heart to them. Time flies by quick. I was a head baseball coach for just six years, and that time is now done. Hopefully I did a good job, because I gave a lot of time and effort toward that outside of everything else I had going on. Regardless of who you are, what your home life is and whatever natural ability you have, if you really apply yourself you absolutely can be a great student today. You can be great at the job you choose eventually. Many years from now, you can be a great husband and father, and someday, maybe you will have the opportunity to coach a baseball team. Be great!
Other Stories in this collection:
Farm Fresh: How do Baseball Lessons Apply to Farming?
by Brian Hefty