Pick up rocks


As a child, I would hear other kids at school talk about getting grounded as a form of discipline from their parents. Grounded? I wondered what this meant and entailed. So I asked one day.

You know, when your parents make you come home after school and sit in your room without getting to watch tv and maybe do chores and stuff.

What a dream! You see, this farmer's daughter has never been grounded before. Now, don't interpret as never needing discipline. For me, my Dad would give me a 5 gallon bucket and send me out to the farm, walking the fields to pick up rocks-- Big or small, put them in the bucket, take the bucket to a ditch, pour the rocks out there, and start all over. Actually, now that I think of it, picking up rocks is the most natural form of getting grounded... literally. So yes, he grounded me with this practice. 

It was an easy concept that would make a teenager do anything but get in trouble (and also ticked off to no end because who in the world gets told to pick up rocks that are in a field?!? Walk in a field and you'll see what I mean.). Now I can admit: It was character building, for sure, and it also showed me the need for those rocks to keep the ditch from washing out. I hated it and I learned a lot from picking up rocks. He also had a few other tricks up his sleeve like this for kiddos that didn't want to listen to a parent. #bestalternativestogrounding would have been his hashtag for my brother and I. Also: #isyourbuckethalffullorhalfempty #allnaturalgrounding (Ok, I'll stop humoring myself.)

Fast forward 20 years later and I find myself picking up rocks still. Literally, when I plant test plots with farmers, I try to pick up rocks in their tilled fields to keep them from messing up equipment. I do get looks but I think they appreciate it-- and now they know why. Ha! But I also view the small things in our work, the small things we sometimes don't want to do as 'picking up rocks'. It is important to our work, serving those in our workplace, and making progress to keep things from coming washing out below our feet, just like a ditch with no rocks to keep its banks stable. 

I see so many bloggers and writers talk about outsourcing the work you don't like to do-- you know, do the 'important work'. I do agree you can get caught up in things that do deter from your role and work at hand and there are some things to outsource or delegate. I also agree that as someone changes in roles of leadership and as life changes as a whole, you begin to see tasks that need to be transitioned to someone else to do the new work at hand. 

With that said, I think the message young professionals need to hear is to pick up the rocks. To do the small and maybe sometimes not so glamorous work at hand. And unlike the younger version of myself, to do so with joy and gratitude, as this is the work that is important. It is. And it matters to people. Keep the banks stable, do the work we've been given with diligence.