Words To Live By

The “Golden Rule” might be the most important sentence ever written. It’s such a simple thought, so eloquently stated: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If we could just root our society in that good soil, the world would be a much better place.

But the golden rule isn’t much good if you apply it only to your friends and family. It goes for everyone. Likewise, in business, you should treat the newest member of the staff with the same respect you treat the CEO.

Whenever there’s a complaint at our greenhouse, we tell our staff to err on the side of the customer. As a result, almost every problem gets dealt with quickly and pleasantly. Every once in a while, however, there’s an exception.

Early in our gardening days, a neighbour named Laura Henry came to work for me. At first, she’d just stop by once in a while and say, “Can I give you a hand?” She’d help out for an hour or two, and I’d go off to eat my lunch. Gradually, I came to rely on her so much that I hired her permanently.

Laura was a great person to have around when things got busy. She could really handle customers well. When she was in a hurry, however, she did make the occasional mistake—which was easy to do on those old dial scales.

Once, after she had sold a fellow a bag of cucumbers, he came back to her terribly annoyed. He threw the bag onto the scale and snapped, “Weigh that!” She weighed it and was so far out it was terrible. She apologized and gave the man his refund.

Even though I felt bad about the blunder, my sympathies were with Laura. The situation could have been just as easily resolved without anger. “Excuse me,” he could have said, “I think there’s been an error.” The saddest part is that the man knew Laura. It was an honest mistake, yet he treated her like a criminal.

In the vegetable business, scales are finicky things and are continually out, but we lost more often than the customers. We’ve always tried our best to fix the mistakes, but in the end my staff is there to serve, not to be subservient.

Treat people the way you expect to be treated: let your example say it all.

-Lois Hole I'll Never Marry A Farmer