A Leadership Story


Every year in Iowa at the State Farm, the same farmer was winning the Gold Medal Competition for Best Corn. One year, a reporter asked him, “what’s your secret?” not thinking she would get any secrets. He said, “I will tell you my secret.” Surprised, the reporter turns on her recorder to capture this nugget of truth. He says, “I simply, at the end of the year, give my best seed to all my neighbours.” 

The reporter goes, “What! You give away your best corn-seed to your neighbours? Why would you do that?”

He says, “it’s really quite simple. There’s lots of things I can control growing corn, and lots of things I cannot. One of the things I cannot control is pollen that comes in from my neighbours properties into my corn and gives it some of the nutrients to make it grow. But, if I can strengthen that pollen around my fields, then I’m gonna get the best pollen which produces the best corn.”

It’s a pretty simple story, but to me it changes how we think, and how I think, about leadership. It’s a game-changer because it becomes a focus on improving others and allowing them to shine, and our strength strengthens from all of that. 

My simple definition of leadership is, “the willful act to deposit strength into another person.” 

Therefore, it changes us, and changes our areas of influence, because we all become seed-planters. It doesn’t really matter what we do; it’s how we do it that becomes most important.