My grandfather was a farmer. I used to pass farms on the way to work when i was a postmaster. There is a great skill I have learned from the farming life even though I myself struggle to keep houseplants alive. That skill is patience.
Here is what farming has taught me. When a farmer plants a seed in the ground and waters it he does not come back the next day expecting a crop. In fact, he will go out every day to continue to water and fertilize that seed with little or no result to show for it. When the plant pokes through the ground he also does not expect to harvest right then and there. He nurtures that plant. He protects it from being attacked by outside forces such as insects and fungus. He continues to water and work with the plant as it grows. Finally when harvest time comes he knows just the right way to harvest the plant for Maximum return. Even after the harvest is over the farmer realizes that one year will not sustain him and his family and begins to think about the following years planting. He begins to prepare the soil for the winter and store crops to last during those cold months.
What does all this have to do with anything other than farming? A lot of us when working on a goal whether that be losing weight, or starting a business have a tendency to give up way to soon. We, in essence, put the seed in the ground and come back the next day looking to harvest. Some of us even look at the ground after a few days and think “when I see a plant I’ll go back to watering”. Meaning if we do not see any results on our goal we stop putting forth the effort. Much like in the farming example, if we stop ‘watering’ our goals they will never grow.
There is also the temptation to want to harvest to soon. Just like the farmer who finally sees a plant begin to sprout after weeks of waiting and working, as we see our goals begin to manifest we may be tempted to want to stop working and look at what we can get from all that effort we have put forth. Of course if we do this again, the plant will not bear all the fruit it can and we will not receive all of the benefits we could. By knowing that we still have to nurture our success and build it up as it continues to grow we will resist the temptation to harvest too soon.
When time to harvest the fruits of our goals we will do so in the manor that allows us to get the most out of them. Just like the farmer harvesting enough that it will allow the plant to continue to grow as long as it can. Also like the farmer we should begin to think about the future. Storing the rewards from our harvest and beginning to ‘prepare the soil’ for next years crop. In other words, know that one success will not last a lifetime. It is progress that creates a sense of happiness and fulfillment in each of us. Let us look forward to our next great adventure and our next crop we must plant.
So when it seems as if you have been working towards a goal and you have not seen any results, think of that famer watering that seed for weeks without seeing any result. We never know what is happening ‘underneath the ground’. When we start to see our goals begin to manifest let us resist the temptation to stop working. Just as if the farmer stopped watering the plant once it broke the soil it would still die. Let us also harvest smart, knowing we must sustain ourselves for when the hard times or the ‘winter’ of our lives comes.
So enjoy this lesson from the farm. Maybe even plant a garden this spring and let it serve as a reminder of all these valuable lessons.