Values Learned While Growing Up

Gary Hennerberg was raised on a farm, straddling the Kansas and Nebraska border. He wrote this tribute for his father, a hard-working farmer, in 2001, as he reflected on the values he learned by watching and working with his father. On Father’s Day 2004, this essay was featured by advice columnist Dear Abby and was read by millions around the world.

What I Learned from You

Make Hay When the Sun Shines

When it’s sunny, and the forecast looks good, it’s time to bring out the equipment and take advantage of the circumstances of the day. Not every day is sunny, and not every day in life brings opportunity. I learned from you that when times are good to make the most of it.

Sharpen Tools on a Rainy Day

When it rained and we couldn’t go to the field, we used our time wisely by sharpening tools, doing maintenance, or other tasks that would give us a jump start on the season. I learned from you that those rainy days are actually a gift from God to refresh, renew and make us better.

Do Two Things at Once

You taught me to have two things going at the same time. Some tasks don’t require constant monitoring and a second task can be started before the first task is completed. That’s the art of multi-tasking, and the ability to get twice as much done in the same amount of time. I learned from you that by multi-tasking I can double my effectiveness.

Keep Machines Cleaned and Maintained

We washed the machinery and conducted routine maintenance as an automatic ritual. It made them look years younger than their actual age, and cost less money to operate in the long run. That attitude you instilled in me continues today with an ethic to take care of my belongings and treat them with respect.

Stay Between the Lines

A clean field requires staying between the rows when cultivating it. When you stray outside the rows, you’ll needlessly destroy precious crops. I stay within the lines in my personal life and do what’s right for my business associates. I learned from you to be careful not to do anything that would destroy what we cultivate.

Take the High Road

An improper act shouldn’t result in an improper response. Better to take the high road and be able to hold your head up with pride knowing that you did the right thing. I learned from you that often the best response is silence, and that good fortune returns when you treat people with respect.

Go To Church Every Sunday and Trust God

We went to church every Sunday. It’s a lifelong habit you instilled in me. With my trust in God, I’m able to step back and recognize a greater power. Trusting God reinforces the real priorities of life and family. And just as importantly, it has given me the freedom to know that at the end of the day, and at the end of time, everything will be all right.