Messages from the Masters
Planting Corn by Kevin Eikenberry

Growing up I spent lots of hours on a tractor, and the spring was the intensive time for that activity. As I progressed through High School, I was eventually given what was considered the most important spring job of all - running the planter. From then on and through the springs of my college days, I spent lots of time planting corn. Then...I didn't do it again...until this Memorial Day weekend about 15 years later.

Keep Them Straight

Along with learning to operate and maintain the planter correctly (no small set of tasks themselves), it was always clear that one of the most important parts of planting is having straight rows - at least in our family. While my Dad taught me all of the skills needed, he gave special focus to teaching me how to get the rows straight. I learned that the key is to always look far ahead - a gaze just past the end of the tractor hood will ALWAYS lead to crooked rows.

The planting metaphor is clear for our lives. In our lives we deal with lots of day to day issues, keeping track of details, managing the daily stuff of life - just like operating the planter correctly, we have to keep tabs on all operations (including looking back as I was driving).

But if you want to reach your goals and objectives, you have to keep your "eye on the prize." Just as I had to look all the way across the field and beyond to fix my gaze on my destination in order to reach my goal of straight rows, we too must remain mindful and focused on our ultimate goals, objectives and purpose.

This forward gaze allows us to anticipate obstacles and challenges while keeping us aware of our desired endpoint. Alternatively, if we don't look out far enough - our life rows will ALWAYS be crooked.

Using My Subconscious

The first couple of times across the field, after this long lay off, I was pretty nervous! I wanted to make sure I got the corn safely in the ground, kept my speed correct, watched for obstacles and maybe most of all - "Keep them straight"! I was consciously thinking about all the steps, processes and tasks.

After awhile I fell into a comfort zone. The years since I had last done the job melted away. My subconscious took over. When we allow our subconscious to work we improve our performance greatly.

Don't know what I mean? Think about riding a bike before and after you learned. Thinking about driving a car at the start of your learning process (especially when learning to drive a manual!), compared to now. How different was your performance when learning versus later? Didn't performance improve as concentration on the task lessened? If so, thank your subconscious!

Now What?

As you finish reading this, take five minutes to reflect on the dual lessons of the corn planting son. What is my ultimate objective? Am I keeping my eye on that prize, or am I allowing the daily stuff of my life to divert my gaze?

Do I trust myself to do the tasks I can subconsciously, so I can focus my conscious attention on more important tasks? Doing both you will keep your life rows straight and help you enjoy the process and the results.

Kevin Eikenberry is a speaker, trainer, author, and 'Chief Potential Officer' of The Kevin Eikenberry Group ( - a leader in equipping leaders to reach their full potential and productivity. © Copyright 1999 - 2002  All rights reserved.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International