Farming provides a wealth of life lessons, and farmers are the lead characters. We should learn their lessons and apply them in our urban lives.
Farmers are not often thought of as leaders. They do not necessarily lead a movement or take organizations to the next level of performance. But, much of what they do throughout the seasons is exhibit great principles we can learn from and apply in our urban lives.
From my experiences and observations as a farmer’s son, there are six leadership principles which stand tall.
Six Farmer Principles for Leaders
1. Strengthen the corner post. When building a fence, it is essential to have solid corner posts. Their purpose is to provide staying power of the tension so that the barbed wires stay taunt and useful. To gain this strength, a farmer needs to ensure the foundation for the hole is deep enough, well compacted, and braced to support the wires extending from at least two directions.
Be well-anchored, well-grounded to support the tensions, the reliance, and the support required to do the job consistently and continuously.
2. Plant well, harvest right. There is more planning which goes into farming than you might realize. Key questions need to be answered such as: What do I plant? Where do I plant it? Has the right soil preparation been done? When do I plant it? How do I care for it during the growing season? When do I harvest it? How can I maximize my harvest?
Plan proactively, balancing timing with the right preparation to get the most results from all resources involved.
3. Pick rocks. There are mundane jobs which need to be done to prevent troubles later on or at critical times. Picking rocks is one of those responsibilities. Big rocks translate into less soil to grow crops. Small rocks create potential problems at harvest – a rock going through the equipment can result in costly repairs and delays.
Do the mundane jobs to clear the fields of potential problems and get the most out of what you have.
4. Give your word, keep your word. Farmers are helpful. If a neighbor needs a helping hand, it is extended. If the community needs support, they are present. In rural communities, few words are generally spoken, but the words are always backed-up with action.
There are few written agreements in farming; your hand-shake and your word are your commitments. If you say you are going to do something, you do it. Words and actions are bounded tightly together. There is no place to hide. Farming communities may be spread out. All the same, everyone knows where you live, and farmers generally stay where they are for years and years.
Offer your commitment, keep your commitment. In the end, your reputation will be what remains.
5. Get your hands dirty. Farmers are unafraid of a little or a lot of dirt. You cannot work a farm without getting your hands dirty. From planting to harvesting, from barns to feedlots, and from cattle to chickens, farmers will get their hands dirty. They are in the middle of the action; they are the planters, the doers; and they know the only way to help get things done is to get your hands dirty.
Jump in and activate the work that needs to be done.
6. Store for a better day. After the crops are harvested, there are two options: sell right away or store it. At times, the money may be needed sooner rather than later. Usually, the harvest season is not the best time to sell – supplies higher, prices lower. Also, you may need reserves to help out during the bad times, when the weather delivers a blow and crops suffer. A buffer is needed from time-to-time.
Keep a reserve – funds, personal energy, time, etc. Know the critical resources, and be ready for the droughts and the long haul.
Farming provides a wealth of life lessons, and farmers are the lead characters. Farmers lead; learn their lessons. These farmer-based principles do work in the urbanized world, too.
What do you think? Which farmer principle stands out for you? Join the conversation.