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MICHAEL DIERBERG, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

For those of us who live and work in cities, the world around us is the ‘here and now.’ Everything is new. We work in office buildings that are probably younger than most of the people working in them. The tools we use to do our jobs didn’t exist 10 – 20 years ago. We use things and then discard them. Given our surroundings, it’s not surprising that often our perspective is narrowly focused on what is directly in front of us, or the here and now.

Contrast that with the perspective of a farmer. The farmer may live in the same home that his or her grandparents or great-grandparents built. Likewise, the fields and barns have been passed down and tended to by generations before. At night, the farmer has a clear view of the sky as a reminder of a broader picture beyond that day’s activities.

All of this leads to several traits that are common among the farming community: appreciation and respect for the contribution of others who came before; a feeling of responsibility; a longterm perspective; a desire to leave things better off than when you started; and a broader purpose than immediate financial gain. These traits fall under the umbrella of a single concept common in the farming community – stewardship.

What’s stewardship? Stewardship can be defined in a variety of ways; however, stewardship is the responsible guidance and oversight of something entrusted to one’s care. Good stewards understand they are entrusted with resources and feel a responsibility to make the most of them before passing the baton of responsibility to others.

ATTRIBUTES OF A GOOD STEWARD

Appreciation and Respect. The perspective of a good steward begins with an appreciation for the contribution of others in creating the opportunities and success of the good steward. Even if the good steward is a first generation entrepreneur who started with very little, the good steward will recognize the contribution and sacrifices others have made along the way to position the entrepreneur for success. Just as a farmer understands that crops don’t spring out from his own hands, good stewards recognize that the resources they’ve been entrusted with present opportunities for which they should be thankful.

Humility. The perspective of a good steward is also founded on humility. Humility comes from doing whatever it takes to get the job done, no matter how unglamorous the task. It also comes from seeing yourself as a small, but important, part of a much bigger picture.

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