Prize Corn

As you already know, I was lucky enough to attend MIT’s commencement exercises yesterday. Kimberley Wu addressed the crowd as the President of the Class of 2006. She was great and she related a story that I would like to share with you.

There was a farmer who grew corn. Every year his county held a contest to determine which farmer grew the best corn. Every year he won. Year after year this farmer grew the best corn in the county and he won the award. One day, a visitor noticed that this farmer gave some of his best seed to one of his neighbors. The visitor asked why he was sharing his best seed with his neighbor. Wasn’t he concerned that their corn would be better than his? Wasn’t he concerned that they would eventually win the contest for having the best corn in the county? The farmer explained that the winds in the county pick up the corn pollen from all of the neighboring farms and deposit it to all of the other neighbors, so some of his corn pollen ends up on his neighbors’ farm and some of his neighbors’ corn pollen ends up on his farm. If his neighbors’ corn was very inferior and it was deposited on his award winning corn, wouldn’t his own corn become less superior. By sharing his best seed with his neighbors, the pollen that was deposited on his farm was better than it would have been had he not shared and his corn wasn’t degraded by the blown in pollen.

What a great story to share with the best of the best! I had never heard anyone express this sentiment so well, but it’s one of the reasons that I blog. I’m hoping that you will get something from what I share, get better than you are and raise the bar for me. I never want to win because my competition failed or had a bad day. I want to win against the best on their best day. If I lose, no problem. I’ll keep coming. If I win, I hope my competition keeps coming. If I’m better and you’re better, then the world has to be better.

Thank you Kimberley!

6 thoughts on “Prize Corn

  1. Great story! It’s amazing how many people don’t understand this. A couple weeks back I suggested to someone that I work with, that they go and work with someone else I work with. I know this organization can help her a lot with her present business and personal challenges. She felt she couldn’t possibly work with them because the organization I was referring her to has a close relationship with a firm that she competes directly with. She asked, “Why would they try hard to help me, given that they have a close relationship with one of my competitors?” I tried to explain that they will help her because you’re their customer and you’re paying them to help you. I asked, “Aren’t you glad I don’t question you’re willingness to work for me when I know you do work for companies that I compete with?” She tried to convince me that it was different somehow… Some people don’t get it; won’t get it until they are ready. Don’t fear the competition – embrace it.

  2. I totally agree. My motto is: “The only competition that I have are the people that decide to compete with me.” I do this two ways: 1. Offering services that fill voids that others don’t fill. 2. Being the best at what I do. Or atleast striving to be the best.

  3. Pingback: Corn, Teamwork, and Decisions | Customer Loyalty & Service and Support Leadership

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