I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I did kind of grow up on a farm. Actually, I lived in a small town but my grandparents owned a farm and I spent a lot of time there. Much of my summer often included staying with them to help in the hay,
drive the tractor and disc just before planting season, help feed the cattle, and any of a variety of other chores that might need to be done. I didn’t do it to learn responsibility, hard work, taking care of animals, or any of the other life-
lessons I unknowingly did learn in the process. I did it because I liked being outdoors, I liked being with my Grandpa, and I liked the fact that he paid me a little bit for helping. After all, that’s what good Grandpas do. I’m sure I was paid
more than I was worth.
While in church a few weeks ago, the preacher said, “we’re not here to collect the harvest, we are here to plant the seeds”. I’m sure he wasn’t intending to refer to my grandpa and he wasn’t even referring to my current business, but
both of those things came to mind. Whether it be us providing Leadership Development or Strategic Planning seminars, or you modeling good leadership in your organization, we are all constantly “planting seeds”. We don’t always see immediate results in the things that we do. People don’t automatically buy into the things that we say, but we plant the seeds anyway. And sometimes they may take off and grow weeks or months or years from now. But that’s part of being a good leader. Setting good examples, modeling appropriate behavior, and imparting our knowledge in a way that others might use it. Not cramming it down their throats.
A long time ago I was a high school principal. There was a young man in school who was a constant problem and no matter how much talking and counseling and disciplining I tried, nothing seemed to help. Several years later on a Sunday afternoon I got a phone call from him. He had found my number and just wanted to call and thank me for not giving up on him and that he is now married, has started a family, and has a good job. You never know when planting those seeds will reap a harvest.
Good leadership is about planting seeds, providing direction, and helping people understand themselves. We may never know what kind of impact we made and how we have affected other people. We may never know if they sometimes think of us when they are making important decisions. We may never know how they quietly thank us for our wisdom and patience and understanding when they are going through difficult situations. But we keep planting seeds anyway, because being a good leader is not about us. It’s about recognizing others’ success, giving others deserved credit, shouldering responsibility when things don’t go well, and helping individuals and organizations be better than they were when we got there.