Lessons from the Farm: When to Stop

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To finish out Lessons from the Farm for 2021, I thought I would repost a few lessons from years past. Enjoy!

Earlier this week, I posted about not stopping when you’re trying to move forward. I would recommend if you haven’t read the first post, click here and read it before reading today. And yes, today’s picture is an authentic picture as well, just not something I did.

Here’s the thing about getting stuck. Once you get stuck, more than likely you’re not going to pull yourself out alone. In fact, in my experience, when I got stuck and kept telling myself I could work myself out, a lot of times I only dug a deeper hole.

So, today’s leadership principle is know when to stop and ask for help.

There seems to be an aura in society about asking for help. People are ashamed to do it. Often times, I’m embarrassed to ask for help. It’s embarrassing to send your boss (much less your dad) a picture of a pickup buried to the frame. It’s even more embarrassing as a 28 year old to send the same picture to the 17 year old kid who works with you.

As leaders we convince ourselves that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We are the leader, so why would we need help? Are we not supposed to be the expert? We should know better.

Or, maybe you’ve served with someone who asked for help so much you felt like all they were doing was trying to get out of doing actual work, and you do not want to come across that way.

But, when you’re stuck, you’re stuck. Scroll up and look at today’s picture again. Do you think there’s any way that tractor is getting out on it’s own? It’s not equipped to do it. The front tires alone (it’s not an all wheel drive tractor) are almost completely buried.

In leadership, the same thing can happen. We can get to a place where we’ve tried and tried to work our way out, but the truth is we have dug ourselves such an incredible hole, we have to ask for help.

Help comes in a variety of ways, but here are three:

Trusted friends – Maybe all you need is a little push so your tires can grab. Trusted friends are great for this! They keep you honest, humble, and moving forward. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you, and everyone wins.

Conferences – Something about getting away and being exposed to new or different ideas and concepts gets our creative juices flowing. I’m excited to try to find a conference in our current climate that will help me to process and make the most of the struggles I’m facing.

Professional Counseling – I cannot tell you how many significant leaders to whom I listen or read have stressed the importance of counseling. Sometimes, when you’re stuck, the best step is to seek the help of a professional.

The bottom line is this: we all get stuck at some point. Great leaders know they’re stuck and are not afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of maturity.

Stuck

Lessons from the Farm: Keep Going

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To finish out Lessons from the Farm for 2021, I thought I would repost a few lessons from years past. Enjoy!

I grew up working with my dad on his farm. We raised cattle, wheat, cotton, and whatever else he thought would make a profit. Lucky for me, I learned a few things along the way.

Can I confess something? Even now, at my age, I’m not entirely sure what to do when driving through mud. I know experience is supposed to be the best teacher, but here’s what my experience taught me: don’t stop.

The picture featured today is 100% authentic. I was driving down a river bed (dry for the most part), and found myself in sand. I was going pretty slow, so I decided to stop and switch to 4×4 low.

That was my first mistake. I stopped and lost any momentum I had. What happened next is exactly what you see. All four wheels started spinning, but I only went deeper.

The same is true in leadership. You will have days where you feel like you can’t do anything wrong. And other days, you will feel like you’re barely moving at all.

In ministry, this looks like seasons where you’re baptizing every week, and then you go months without any baptisms. Or maybe your attendance is up higher than it’s ever been, and then all of a sudden you notice a steady decline.

In business, it looks different. Never give up trying to build your client list, even when you think it may be time to throw in the towel.

Don’t stop. Do not forfeit your momentum. Find the good things that are happening, and hold on to them. You may not be making the progress you want to make, but keep making progress.

Success is not a calling. Success is a result. I cannot think of anyone who became successful because they surrendered their momentum.

Faithfulness is a calling. You are being called to be faithful to what you’ve been called to do. Even when you feel like giving up. Even when you feel like you’re not making a difference. Push through.

Keep your eyes fixed on Christ, and keep going.

Lessons from the Farm: Surround Yourself with Sharp People

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Let’s get theoretical today.

I was always amazed by my dad’s ability to come up with new ideas of how to approach a situation or problem. I remember, specifically, him deciding he wanted to create a special gate based on the way a calf feeder worked. It was one of those moments where I realized he was thinking through things on a different level.

And that’s the point. There are people who approach situations differently than you do. They look at a calf feeder and see an idea. They see the flaw in one design, so they make a tweak in the design and build their own.

But the question then becomes, are you seeking those people out?

When I was in high school, my dad got on the board for a local land bank. He started going to meetings and trainings with other ranchers from the area who were not only successful, but highly intelligent. And can you guess what happened? He grew.

The people we surround ourselves with matter immensely, especially in leadership. Seek out people to encourage and mentor you, whether it be actual face to face time, or a different medium (podcasts, books, blogs (subscribe to 3QL if you haven’t already!), etc.).

If you want to grow, find people who are growing and spend time with them. Learn how they think. Learn their strengths. Learn their tips and tricks. And then just learn. You’ll be amazed with what happens when you surround yourself with sharp people.

Lessons from the Farm: Know Your Season

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Our year is divided into four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Sometimes, living in Texas, we feel like we experience all four in one day, but each season brings its own unique challenges and benefits.

Growing up on the farm, we lived by different seasons. Depending on the main source of income (feeder cattle, pairs, wheat, cotton, etc.), our seasons would vary.

When we were growing wheat, we knew August and September were the target to get the seed in the ground. And in July we knew part of getting the seed in the ground would long days ahead. But there was always comfort and solace in knowing planting was only for a season.

We didn’t have to plant wheat 12 months out of the year. Instead, we would work like crazy to get it in the ground, then slow down a little while it grew.

Ebbs and flows. Ups and downs.

Knowing the season you’re in and the season on the horizon are crucial if you want to survive. None of us wants to work ourselves to death, or to make our lives miserable working. But sometimes, you have to work like crazy in order to reap the benefits.

And it’s easier to work like crazy when you know rest is coming.

Let me encourage you to pause for just a moment today and evaluate the season you’re in and the season that’s coming.

For me, I’m finishing up the school year with the end of a 4 week crazy season, and then summer comes. I can look at my calendar for June and July and realize I’ll be living at a different pace, so the next two weeks are critical for me to find moments of rest.

What about you? What season are you in? What season is coming? What steps can you take in the next few days to help navigate the two? Are you willing to do it?

Sluggards do not plow in season;
    so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
– Proverbs 20:4 NIV

Lessons from the Farm: Take a Break

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I don’t know how many farmers you have met in your life, but can I let you in on a secret? There are not many farmers who survive the long haul by being lazy.

Farmers don’t punch a clock (this Lesson from the Farm is worth clicking to just to see the picture!). They may track time, but they don’t punch a clock. Cattle don’t look up and ask where you’ve been when you finally show up. Tractors don’t get jealous when they haven’t seen you in a while. Wheat is going to grow regardless of your presence or absence.

The danger, though, is if a farmer isn’t careful then the work at hand can become all consuming-requiring more time than one person can put in during a week.

That’s why it’s important to learn to take a break. As a Christian, I believe this is why God gave us Sabbath. We need rest. We need a break. We need a moment away.

Successful farmers know how to walk this line. They know the weight of the work, but they also know the importance of rest.

If you’re anything like me, there are going to be moments where you feel as though the work staring at you this week is overwhelming, and there’s no way you could take time off. But you need it. Your brain needs it. Your family needs it.

If you want to last in whatever it is that you’re doing, learn to work hard in all you do, and then learn to take a break. Your body, mind, and family will thank you.

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