I always smile when I think of him and I think of him often. Perry Gilbert (P.G.) Harris was my grandfather.
In my life I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, working with or mentoring under some of the legendary personal and business development minds in history. I’ve learned a ton from their teaching. But, all in all, my value system and my work ethics come directly from the teaching of my Grandfather. P.G. Harris was a farmer, a wheat farmer in Sumner County, in the state of Kansas, USA.
The landscape was stuff of poems and song, rolling prairie as far as the eye can see with wheat fields for miles and miles. And P.G. Harris fit the landscape. He was tall and lanky and tough. He always wore bib overalls, farmers’ boots, a farmers’ hat and had a farmers tan.
My Grandfather worked about 600 acres of wheat and pasture land and I worked with him from the time I was old enough to work. He was known as a successful farmer and a pretty good businessman. And, he had rules. As I grow older and begin to reflect on life I also began to realize that Grandpa’s Rules applied to more than farming, they applied to the art of business and life. Surprisingly, I also realized that along the way I had taken his rules and adapted them to modern day business applications. So far I have recorded 16 separate “Grandpa’s Rules” that I’ve adapted and use every day.
Here are just 7 of the Grandpa Rules;
- (Effort) “Hard work never hurt anyone so get busy!”
He taught me my most valuable skill and that was a powerful work ethic. I believe that a work ethic is one of the most desired skills that an employer looks for. Too many people just don’t get it and want big pay for little effort, and that’s not the reality for success in this life anyway. In fact I believe that a solid work ethic is an important SKILL that employers find extremely valuable.
- (Goals) “The world doesn’t owe you a thing; you’ve got to earn it!”
Congratulations if your family has money or if you’ve won the lottery, but if you wait for the phone to ring with your “big” opportunity, I’ll look for you in the welfare line. It’s important to learn early that you will earn everything that you get in life through clarity of what you want out of life, then, add in hard work; dedication; focus; commitment; passion; discipline and an ongoing personal development program. The old adage is still as true today as it was a hundred years ago, the harder you work the luckier you get!
- (Pride) “Whatever you do in life, whatever it is, be the best. If you’re a ditch digger for the county you had better win the award for the best ditch digger in the county!”
There is a certain amount of pride that defines a job well done. The rule always reflects a level of personal values and honor that will reflect on you for years to come. Basically if you’re in a job that you don’t like for whatever reasons, you have two choices. The first is to slack off, work half heartedly and gripe and moan about the boss; the job; the business; co-workers and on and on. Or, according to Grandpa’s teachings, just shut up and do your job and do it well. Even though you might not enjoy what you’re doing, you owe the company a day of focused work, even your best work without complaint. They’re still paying you, right? Then when you can you find something different to do. Be proud of what you’re doing even if it’s not ideal. The right people will always eventually notice which choice you make.
- (Quality) “The job isn’t complete until it’s done right!”
In a certain part of Kansas, this statement is known as “PERRY’s RULE”. To this day it is still referred to. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working all day and you’re tired. You should never ever be satisfied with a job that’s incomplete or just pieced together. The only job that is truly done and complete and one you can be proud of is one that’s done right! So, according to the rule, you do it until it is.
- (Effort) “Never do a job “Half-Fast”
Granddad would tolerate my mistakes, bad judgment and plain old screw ups as long as I was working hard and going full speed. This rule revolved around the idea that all is forgivable as long as you were working hard and you learned something from the issue. However, he had no time for problems caused by mistakes when someone was moving slow, half-hearted, without purpose or initiative or “Half-Fast” (read between the lines).
- (Accountability) “Your word is your bond!”
Your entire value as a human being is based on the value of your word. If you say you’re going to do something then he expected you to do it. If you agreed on a time to meet or a time to start he expected you to be there. If you broke it, he expected you to fix it. If you shook hands on a deal, he expected you to stand by it. If you didn’t, you seldom got more chances. The world is a better place only if everyone held themselves accountable
- (Empathy) “Look for the good in everyone”
Grandpa’s message was simple. It’s easy to find fault in people. This approach always then leads to ridicule and negative relations. I never once heard him say a bad word about anyone. He lived his belief. He always looked through the potential negatives and looked for a good and common ground.
In 1971 I was one of the first young people to come home from college with long hair. This discretion caused quite the uproar in my small town, to a point that my father told me to get a haircut or leave. I was very upset and jumped in my car and as requested, I left. On the way I stopped by the farm to get counsel from Grandpa. I asked him what he thought about the issue. I will never forget what he told me. True to his rules he looked at me and simply said, “I guess it’s what’s under the hair that counts.”
Today, over 40 years later, ironically I have no hair, but I think about that line nearly everyday. The foundational truths to Grandpa’s Rules apply to success in business today as much as success in life. And, as long as I do what I do, I will continue to live and teach, with pride, “Grandpa’s Rules”.