Growing up, I worked on ranches and spent a lot of time with ranch kids. I’m convinced they are some of the hardest working and highest quality people you will meet.
I met one specific rancher during a 6-month gap year program. He taught me a lot of things. For now, we’ll call him Mike. Here are four of my favorite things Mike taught me about life.
Don’t ask for permission.
When I first met Mike and the rest of our team in our new home, almost everything was broken. And, not a single door had been installed in the building. Immediately, Mike set to hanging every door. When we ran out of doors for the empty door frames, he found a plywood board and curtain to act as his bedroom door. As lights burned out or sinks clogged, he fixed them because the staff running the building took too long.
Focus on the solution, not the problem.
In chaotic situations, Mike was a calming presence. He seemed unphased when plans went awry. How? And why?
He focused on the solutions, not the problems. If he didn’t have a solution to offer, he remained composed until one was found.
Work regardless of circumstances.
Rain, snow, or shine, there is always work to be done on a ranch. It doesn’t matter how bad your day was or how busy you were: things need to happen. There’s no getting around it. With that mentality, Mike treated every task like it was critical. He never complained or left anything unfinished.
Always lend a hand. Expect nothing in return.
When we rotated cleaning chores, you could be sure that Mike was around to help out. Even on his nights off. I frequently saw him lend a hand with dishes, grocery shopping, and laundry. He even took responsibility for team finances. When we went rock climbing or hiking, he always had an eye out for how he could keep everyone safe or help them reach the top. He never expected anything back, which made us want to give back even more.
It’s been a year since I’ve seen Mike, but I still remember those lessons. They’re simple yet surprisingly difficult. They take humility and confidence. He might have learned those lessons from living on a ranch, but now we (you and I) get to apply them everywhere else.