Yesterday was Father’s Day. I hope all the dads out there were able to spend time with their loved ones.
This is the first time in many years that I wasn’t able to spend it with my dad. I knew my summer schedule would be quirky, so I made a point of getting back to my roots a couple of weeks ago.
My dad always has a way of reminding me that no matter how hard I think I’m working, there’s always more work to be done. Nothing drives that home like spending time on a farm. In addition to having the opportunity to do lots of “farm things” (aka “work”) the best thing about being on the farm is that cell service is spotty. It forces you to spend time in the moment and focus on concrete tasks. I spent some quality hours behind the wheel of a tractor, which is always good for reflective thinking.
Everything on a farm is about cause and effect. Preventive maintenance is key. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of healthcare. (Farming also reminds me of healthcare in that I’ve learned I can handle anything as long as I have gloves on, but that’s a story for another day.). When you neglect something on a farm, it almost always comes back to haunt you. It’s important to pay attention and do the right thing the first time. Not just because someone told you to do it, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Doing the right thing is good for the land, your neighbors, and the community. You don’t do it because the government mandated it, but because you should.
Another key piece of learning on the farm is that when something needs to be done, everyone needs to pitch in. I check my MD at the door (well, actually when I turn off the paved road onto the gravel road) because higher education doesn’t exempt anyone from brush hogging, hauling wood, or any number of exciting activities. It does guarantee though that you’re the first person approached when there is a deer tick that needs to be removed.
One of my dad’s mantras is that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Anything less than your full effort is unsatisfactory. I see a lot of people in healthcare IT that look like they’re just going through the motions, forgetting that we have people’s lives at stake. I try my best to model that work ethic for my team and to encourage them to practice it as well.
My dad also taught me that when things go wrong, the best thing to do is to stop, get your wits about you, figure it out, and fix it. And if you can’t fix it, at least come up with a solution that doesn’t make it worse while you find someone smarter to help you fix it.
Whether it’s the hydraulic line on the front-loader that decides to spray fluid all over you or whether it’s a complex laboratory interface that suddenly spews data where it doesn’t belong, neither overreacting nor being paralyzed by fear leads to a good outcome. I know about both of these first hand, and both require teamwork and careful thought to get things flowing back where they should.
Most days on the farm leave me dirty, tired, and generally achy. But there’s nothing quite like crashing in a lawn chair under a 70-year-old tree and watching the sun set over the fields. No matter how fast technology moves, when ICD-10 gets implemented, or what the Supreme Court decides to do, the corn’s going to keep growing. In the morning, there will still be plenty of work for everyone.
Can you name the ideals of 4-H? E-mail me.