Category: Lessons from the Farm

Leadership Journey, Lessons from the Farm

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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Leadership Journey, Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: Training With A Purpose

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So, I decided to do a theme for the first time. I’m going to call these next few 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.

One thing I find intriguing is the equipping of workers that happens on the farm. My dad taught me how to drive a tractor at an early age. Why? Because it was more efficient to have two tractors going than one. We could ride together, and we did when I was very young, but there came a time where the next step was for me to learn how to drive.

I hope this doesn’t sound cold and calculated, but it’s true. When I moved back and spent a few years farming, we would bring new people in to work and they needed to be able to do things on their own.

You never saw my dad running alongside a tractor shouting instructions. Instead, he would equip and let go. There were times where his knowledge was needed to troubleshoot problems, and often the work might have been a little messier than if he had done it himself, but a farm cannot operate efficiently with a micromanager.

Just like on the farm, we need to find ways to equip people and let go. This looks different in every situation, but the principle is always there. When we let go, things will likely get messy or not be done the way we would do them, but an organization cannot operate efficiently with a micromanager.

Who do you need to equip and let go today?

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Leadership Journey, Lessons from the Farm

Lessons from the Farm: Perspective

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From 2009 to 2012 I worked for my dad farming and ranching. I was bivocational, farming most of the week and serving a church the rest. Then, in 2012 I moved my family to Bronte where we have been serving ever since.

I remember early on, after coming back to full time ministry, having a particularly rough day with issues at the church, when my brother (who also works with my dad) sent me a picture that trumped any problem I thought I had.

They were moving a truckload of cattle through a pasture and went over a cattle guard. After clearing the guard, the back axle fell off the trailer. A trailer loaded with about 60,000 lbs of cattle. The 18-wheeler was now a 12-wheeler and stranded in a pasture.

Sometimes, perspective is what a leader really needs. Things may not be as bad as you think they are. Sometimes, they are.

For me, that day, my problems were less significant than losing an axle, and I was grateful.

 

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