“I’ve had two profoundly humbling days in my life. The first was the day my son was born. The second was that unforgettable day at the Auction House.”

This is how David, one of the participants in a session I recently facilitated, answered the question I had just posed to the group: “When in your life have you set a big goal and had no idea at the time how you were going to make it happen?”

Generations before David was born, eighty acres of their small family farm in Nebraska had been separated out and willed to a distant relative. Coming from a long line of farmers David heard this story over and over as a child, and it fueled a passion within him to make the farm whole again.

In 2011, David and his family learned that the precious eighty acres was going to be sold at auction within a couple of weeks. Suddenly at the ripe old age of twenty-something David needed to figure out how to find an extraordinarily large sum of money. “Even though I dreamt of getting the land back for as long as I could remember, when the day came, I wasn’t ready.” He knew in his heart he had to give it his very best effort – and after two weeks of meticulous planning, creative thinking and sleepless nights, he and his father came up with their ‘best number’, and headed for auction.

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When they walked through the door of the Auction House that night, their hearts immediately sank. The place was packed with over 200 farmers, most of whom had much larger farms, more resources, and could outbid him and his father many times over. The Auctioneer called the session to order and asked for the first bid. David and his dad looked at each other, took a deep breath, and made theirs. The Auctioneer acknowledged their bid, and then called for a second.

Silence fell over the room.

After many attempts to solicit another bid, the Auctioneer took a break. When they reconvened, a second bid was once again called for; silence. Three times they took breaks, each time the room remained completely silent. Finally, the Auctioneer had no choice but to award David and his father the winning bid. David and his father were stunned – the family farm was once again complete.

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The emotion on David’s face and in his voice as he told us the story was powerful, and had the other participants and me leaning forward, hanging on his every word. After David finished his story, I asked him what he thought had occurred in the Auction House that night, and without missing a beat, he looked at me with even more emotion, and said, “Respect.”

Like the farmers in the Auction House, the participants and I sat silent for many moments as we contemplated David’s answer. I remember my first thought was, “There it is, there’s another example of what’s right with our world; community.”

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There are enough people out there collecting stories of what’s going wrong with our world, but I want to be a collector of stories like this one; stories that remind me of how there is far more going right out there than what’s going wrong.

There is a saying, ‘If we believe it, we’ll see it.’ I think this is not only true for David and his farm, but also for us when we focus on what’s right with the world.

Since 1997, Lauri Gwilt has centered her career on assisting people from across North America to discover the connection between how they’re thinking, and how their lives go. She is co-author and co-host of The Habit of Celebration, an e-course from the Celebrate What’s Right initiative developed with former National Geographic Photographer, Dewitt Jones.

Plant Some Positivity And Share What’s Right With Your FriendsPhoto by Lauri Gwilt


  1. Hi there,

    We deleted your comment because we try and maintain a positive and optimistic atmosphere on the GNN site. Your comment felt extremely pessimistic in light of a community choosing to come together and help a fellow farmer.

    We welcome differing points of view, but not if they are based solely on a negative hypothetical scenario.

    We hope you understand!

  2. My post was of necessity, hypothetical. The point remains the same. As good as it feels for a community to come together to help an individual that they feel is worthy, the fact is that the major loser in this is not any of the other farmers, but the owner of the land. Someone on the other side of this transaction who was expecting a fair return on their investment was disappointed.

    • I must say this fyi. If a person is willing to have an item auctioned off it is with the understanding that any price is acceptable. If the person is wanting a minimum price then he ‘she must set reserve to minimize that possibility.

      • I second this. If they set the minimum bid with no reserve, they got the price they considered acceptable. In an auction you hope to get more but sometimes you are disappointed.

        Hopefully, this was a family member that didn’t hold a grudge that the family farm was once more restored and whole.

        If it was a bank, then who cares?

  3. It was stated that a distant relative inherited the 80 acres. No mention of that distant relatives investment. .It seems that the surrounding community had more info than we do and shaped this situation toward an outcome that they felt favored the more deserving party.

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