Strong Roots, Strong Yields

Walking alongside a Midwestern corn field a few summers ago, I spotted this sign and immediately connected it to character development. Would it follow, I wondered, that if we plant our seeds in character-enriched soil, they've got a better shot at putting down strong roots and ultimately putting out strong yields?

Then I remembered this story about Growing Good Corn:  In his book How to Talk Well (published in 1994 by McGraw-Hill Book Company Inc.), author James Bender relates the story of a Nebraska farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.  One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked. 

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.' Very much aware of and in tune with the connectedness of life, this wise farmer knows that his corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves. 

So it is in other dimensions of our lives. Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace.  Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches.  And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all. 

If we are to grow good corn, we must willingly help our neighbors grow good corn. I think he's on to something; how will you maximize your yield this year?


  1. Today is our first day of school. This is a great story to share with our staff. Thanks much!

  2. Happy First-Day, Jo! I think I'm going to take it to my district counselors' meeting next week and give them all a can of corn with the story wrapped around the label.

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