I am the eleventh of twelve children in my family and grew up on a cattle ranch on the edge of the Nebraska sand-hills. I started my career with Union Pacific Railroad in our marketing and sales department 23 years ago as a campus recruit. I loved it right off the bat, and it didn’t take me long to realize the lessons I was learning while growing up on the ranch also apply in a Fortune 200 company. Many of those lessons have helped me from a business perspective, but I’ll share the ones that have had the most impact on my career success.

Reputation matters. Tell the truth, even when it’s a tough message. Where I grew up, business was done on a handshake. You own your reputation. Telling people what they want to hear when it is not the truth can result in significant damage. That said, you need to work on proper delivery. Learning how to deliver a tough message and maintain a relationship is a critical skill that is often overlooked.

Everybody works. Pull your weight. Hard work alone won’t make you successful, but neither will pure talent. Performance, performance, performance is the ticket to being noticed for a new assignment, and a team member who is not focused on doing their part quickly becomes a detriment.

Don’t watch the clock. Make hay while the sun shines. I don’t like to use the word “balance” in my vocabulary. Achieving harmony is a much more realistic goal when you think about managing all of the threads of your life. Sometimes work is at a peak and the other threads move into a valley, and vice versa. From both career and family perspectives, knowing when to work and when to play, and how to appropriately mix those things together, makes for a much more enjoyable overall experience for everyone.

There will be tough years. Plan ahead. Anyone who works with agricultural markets knows the world can change on a dime. Whatever job you are in, think about where it could go and have recovery plans in place. Change will happen! You can be behind it trying to catch up, or thinking ahead carving a path. Be adaptable, be innovative, be ready!

Do something you love. Having a passion for whatever you are doing makes all the difference.