There was once a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won first prize. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned the farmer’s strategy for growing winning corn. What was it? Simply this: the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours.

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why” said the farmer, “don’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbours grow good corn.

Source: reported in James Bender How to Talk Well (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1994)

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