Growing up, a hint of jealousy would creep up my spine when I heard my peers mention they slept in until 10 a.m. over the weekend. At my house, my brother and I were already taking a second walk with our livestock projects for the county fair.
Aside from the immense envy for my friends' sleep schedules, I always wondered how learning to drive a tractor in my high school FFA class or pondering over drug use notification forms during 4-H skillathon would transfer into my chosen career path. While these early inherited skills aren’t typically used in an agency setting, my upbringing on a family farm taught me more about communication than the classroom ever could.
Here are three important takeaways that follow me no matter if I’m surrounded by corn fields or bustling sidewalks:
- Nothing is ever guaranteed: You might spend the whole summer preparing your animal for the county fair, only to be sent back to the barn with no ribbon in-hand. Your father might eagerly wait for planting season to be thoroughly disappointed in weather patterns. The same can be said for the detailed communications plan prepared for your whip-smart client that later fell flat due to circumstances outside of your control. No matter the end result, you must be okay with failure — and understand that hard work and true grit are invaluable.
- Educate yourself on differing opinions: It’s common for those outside of the agricultural industry to question the actions of those directly involved. By opening yourself up to opposition — whether through an informative read or personal conversations — your perspective shifts, allowing you to communicate more clearly, inclusively and effectively.
- Always dig deep: I may differ from the average farm kid when I admit I despise dirt and grime. Although, I learned that my dad’s constantly stained clothes meant he was getting to the root of his work, soil and all. It’s essential to do so in any communications role: you must truly understand the breadth and depth of your client’s business challenges to present effective solutions.
For me, a love for communication stemmed in educating my friends on interesting goat facts. Our diverse childhood memories might never intersect with our chosen career paths, but there is meaning behind every experience that leads us to our end goal.