“Even if a farmer intends to loaf, he gets up in time to get an early start.”— Edgar Watson Howe

The farm I grew up on has been in the family for over 150 years. My sister and her partner now run it with their children.

I learned a lot from farming and I still do. In fact, business, in general, learns a lot from farming as the words permeate much of the business language.

Ideas are like seeds. You need to plant many to get some to grow. Do not expect your ideas to appear immediately in someone else’s speech. The seeds need watering and care. You do not want to dig up a seed to see what is happening! You need to give it time to grow.

Prepare for droughts. That is why farmers work as hard in off-seasons as in harvest time. This is why sometimes farmers actually sometimes hired rainmakers. That is why in business the term rainmaking is so commonly used as the metaphor for creating new business. This is why farmers work to keep a reserve of seeds and supplies. Droughts happen.

Make hay while the sun is shining. On the farm, when the hay is ready and the sun is shining, farmers will work dawn to dusk. Actually, with the advent of lights on tractors, one of the worst inventions my father used to say, they often work late into the night.  This is also true in business. When things are going well in generating business, you need to take full advantage.  

Maintain your equipment. When you can’t work in the fields, you still need to work.  Maintain your equipment. Prepare for the next chance to get out there and get things done.

Your work is fun if you treat it that way. My siblings and I had lots of fun doing our work from dawn to dusk. We had somewhat competitive games putting hay bales into the barn loft. We would pay vigorous games of ping pong in between jobs. I still treat work that way.  I hope you do as well.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

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