Each April I post a series about “Lessons from the Farm” where I reflect on leadership lessons I picked up along the way. Today’s post is a peak into my favorite series.
I’ll never forget the strangest harvest we ever had on the farm. In the fall we planted wheat. I saw the bags, saw the seeds, and knew the drill (pun intended). We waited patiently for the first of the crop to break through the ground. I’ve always said there are few things more beautiful to my eyes than a good wheat crop at almost any stage.
Well, this year was different. As the seeds sprouted and started to break the crust, we noticed something different. Wheat was not what was growing. Instead, breaking through the ground was acres and acres of cotton.
Sound a little strange? That’s because it never happened. Every year, when we planted a seed, we knew what the seed would grow into. Wheat seed grows into wheat. Cotton seed grows into cotton. Seems pretty obvious, right? We harvest what we plant.
Let’s shift to a garden. Would you work the ground in a garden and plant a peach tree and expect jalapeños to grow instead? Why not? Because we harvest what we plant.
Now, we may not know the health of what we harvest, but we know what to expect it to produce.
Leadership is no different: we harvest what we plant.
If we plant seeds of discontent and constant doubt about others’ abilities, we will harvest the fruit of discontent and constant doubt about others’ (and eventually our) abilities.
If we plant seeds of dependence on us to do everything and take all the initiative, we will harvest the fruit of people depending on us to do everything and take all the initiative.
If we plant seeds of empowerment, however, we will harvest the fruit of people who have grown to feel empowered.
Do you see the pattern? It seems pretty simple, right? Except sometimes we plant the wrong seed with the right intentions. We train the people we lead to accomplish a mindset for which we were not prepared.
The enemy of leadership is not always outside forces. The enemy of leadership is very often our unwillingness to let go, to empower.
That’s what the 3 questions bring to the table. In the framework of the 3 questions we learn to sow seeds of awareness, willingness and leadership. When we teach people to ask and answer the 3 questions, what begins to happen is those people feel empowered.
What seeds are you sowing? Or, if you’ve been in your current role for a while, what frustrations are you facing that are truly the harvest of the seeds you’ve planted?
Guess what, it doesn’t always happen, but sometimes when a crop is no good, it’s okay to plow the field and plant some new seeds. It may not mean a fresh start, but it may mean a refocusing of purpose and energy, and who wouldn’t benefit from a refocus from time to time?