Lessons from the Farm: Teaching on the Go

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I’ve been going through a theme for the first time. I’m calling these posts “Lessons from the Farm”. You can read the first post here.

Just a little background: I grew up working on my Dad’s farm. As I’ve grown older and spent more time away, there are few leadership principles I have realized along the way.

My dad knew how to do everything. Me? Not so much. That meant a lot of on-the-job training. How do you teach an 8 year old how to run an impact wrench? You show him. And you show him again. And you show him again. Right-in, Tighten (a close cousin to righty-tighty, lefty-loosey).

How do you teach a teenager how to “drive” cattle? By talking through the strategy and then letting them learn how to follow the strategy.

The list goes on and on.

But more than what I was taught, I remember how I was taught: in the moment, sometimes being shown how, sometimes being told, usually realizing after the fact I had more to learn.

The same is true today. No matter how badly I want, training does not happen because I think it should. Training happens on a case by case basis, and the best lessons are usually learned after the freedom to make mistakes.

I never learned the best way to change sweeps on a plow by playing with dirt clods–I had to have the tool in my hand and the job in front of me. Often, the best way to lead is to give someone the tools and knowledge they need, and let them go.

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