How To Learn Life Lessons From Your Farmer

It’s the first day of the local farmers market and I’m pumped. Strolling by the stands, I smell the cheeses, meat on the grill and freshly picked vegetables.

Small children run by me, in a fury of joy with their hands in the air (I want to do the same). Other (older) patrons slowly pass me holding their bags of produce. They wear warm facial expressions suggesting a great home-cooked meal is in the forecast.

I look ahead and see my vegetable farmer Bee. He runs a small local farming operation in Southern Minnesota (about 3 acres). Bee stands about 5’3, with a thin wiry frame and wears a warm smile that welcomes everyone.

Bee has been a farmer his entire life and is a master. He loves it. Farming is in his blood as his father and grandfather were both farmers while living in Laos.

His vegetables are simply the best. They are way beyond the quality seen in organic grocery stores. When you eat them, you can tell they were grown by a master. His vegetables are one of the reasons I love the summer months in Minnesota.  

Bee and I have a deal.

I spend $10 with him. He gives me a free extras. It’s an unwritten, unspoken deal that confuses other patrons.

They ask “why is this huge white dude getting free stuff ?” They don’t get it. I don’t care. 

(Side note: I’m 6’5″ 240 lbs. Bee is 5’3″ 130 lbs.)

Bee greets me with a warm handshake and a smile as I walk into his stand. His hands are hardened and strong due to the thousands of hours spent pulling vegetables from his fields. We chat and he tells me what he’s been up to since last season.

From November to April his life consists of buying seeds, getting natural fertilizers, planning his crop rotation, organizing, researching new breeds and taking some much needed rest.

His life is governed by the dynamic range of Minnesota seasons. 

He must respect each season. 

 

Are you respecting the Seasons of Your Life?

Even if we are not farmers, our lives are governed by rhythms, flows and seasons. We go through cycles of work, tinkering, learning, experimenting, planning, growing, organizing, cultivating, testing and resting. 

When we respect these seasons, we flourish. When we don’t, we burn out, get sick, get fat and age early. 

 Look no further than the census of 2013 to understand that most Americans are overworked, overweight and overspending.

Our culture tells us to over-do it. Do it fast. Do it now.

And we do.

After reading this article, you’ll have a much better understanding of which season you are in. You’ll know when it’s time to crank up the intensity and when it’s time to back off.

This Post Is For:

The creative person who is always pushing their boundaries. You are open minded and can learn from everyone (including your farmer). You understand that life is a dynamic flowing series of events, people and experiences.

 

The Spring: Planting Idea’s In Your Brain

Every time we start something new (job, industry, product, relationship), we are in the spring of our life. Everything is new, alive, fresh and exciting. We don’t know what’s going to take root and what is going to blow away.

The spring is associated with youth, because were babies. At this point, were completely reliant on others and forced to start from zero. It’s like going back to high school. Or worse, Junior High.

It’s a humbling time. We look like idiots and make a lot of mistakes. Which is why most people skip this stage or don’t spend enough time here.

Your Takeaway:

Ideas are like seeds. Some will take root, most will not. The trick is to keep planting new (good) seeds.

We all understand that you are either at the cause or the effect in life. Garbage in = Garbage Out. If we spend our days watching the news, ESPN or 50 Shades of Grey. What do you think is going to happen?

We can either walk through life in haze. Or we can choose to consciously plant great ideas in our minds.

We do this by keeping a daily flood of high quality information. A constant supply of podcasts, audio-books, eBooks and books is a great place to start. Go straight to the top and find the best. Don’t waste your time on the rest. 

Instead of taking a “Mental Break” by going on Facebook. Fill your head with content that keeps you on the rise. 

 

The Summer: Cultivate Your Path To Mastery

Most people go into the summer of their lives during their 20’s and 30’s. It’s a fun time. Lots of activity, things going on, places to go, people to see, things to experience. We’re starting to see how life is going to unfold.

The seeds we planted earlier have started to take root or blew away in the wind.

Your childhood fascination with rockets has turned into a multi-billion dollar space company (Elon Musk). Your love for computer science and connecting people has turned into a massive social empire (Mark Zuckerberg). Your interest in running self experiments has turned into a business centered around being a human Guinea Pig (Tim Ferriss).

Earlier in life, we start to understand where our strengths are. The summer is a time to cultivate those strengths, the same way my farmer Bee cultivate his crops.

  • Can you inspiring others?
  • Do you work best alone?
  • Are you a leader?
  • What industry suits your interests?
  • etc.

As you get older, continue to narrow your focus. Zero in on our areas of strength and build a life, career and legacy around them. 

Your Takeaway:

If you are serious about your work and mastering your craft. It’s time to build daily habits around your unique strengths. Double down on what’s working and cut what’s not.

For example: If you are a talented public speaker and want to make a career out of it. How good are you going to get by giving 1 speech every 3 weeks?

As we’ve learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger just keep doing Reps, Reps, Reps until you get the result you want. It’s not lack of skill that holds people back. Just a lack of reps. 

Which skills are you going to focus on? How are you going to leverage your daily habits and put in the time necessary to become a master?

 

 

The Fall: Harvest The Fruits Of Your Labor

Overnight millionaires burn out fast. Have you ever seen the stats of people who win the lottery? 

However, those that earned their wealth (not just money), enjoy it and stay there a long time. 

The fall of our life happens later (most people would call this middle age). The top politicians, leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs are in their 40’s, 50’s or early 60’s. No coincidence. They have spent a lifetime planting seeds, cultivating their strengths and now reap the rewards of doing so.

John F. Kennedy was a perfect example of this. He spent his entire life getting ready to be in the national spotlight (even if he didn’t know it). When his time came, he was ready.

He danced in the spotlight and walked through the world with ease. Just look at any yuppie professional wearing Ray Ban sunglasses and you’ll see the JFK effect.

People loved him then and still do.

Your Takeaway:

If normally you are operating at a level 10, this is your time to crank it up…. To LEVEL ELEVEN.

This is YOUR time to dominate. It’s YOUR time in the spotlight.

The trick? Staying on top.

Because most people rush into this phase. They don’t spend a long time here. Look no further than any child movie star or someone who made it in their 20’s. They found success too early, made millions, then got surrounded by “yes men”, got addicted to cocaine, crashed a Ferrari, shaved their head and then ruined their life. (What happened to Macaulay Culkin?)

However, like JFK take your time and you’ll enjoy a long ride. 

 

The Winter: Pass On The Lessons You Learned

Yes that's Buffett, Gates and Ludacris. 

Yes that’s Buffett, Gates and Ludacris. 

Warren Buffett is in the winter of his life.

He’s old, wise, worth 72+ billion and is a master teacher. At age 84, he has forgotten more than most people will ever learn about investing.

Each year at the Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Lincoln Nebraska, Buffet goes on an epic 8 hour QA session with a stadium full of adoring fans. It resembles more rock concert than financial earnings meeting. He cracks jokes, tells stories and passes on his wisdom to the next generation of investors.

Your Takeaway:

I’m assuming my senior citizen readership is really low (could be wrong), so I’ll focus this towards the working professional.

Most people are in a rush to be Warren Buffet at age 84. They forget that he didn’t make his first billion until his 50’s and spent the first 3 1/2 decades of his life looking for cheap stocks that no one wanted (known as “Cigar Butts”).  

In most regards Buffet was a late bloomer. He didn’t rush to get to this point in his life. Neither should you.

 

What’s Next?

Each year my farmer Bee experiences the dynamic range of the Minnesota seasons. The seasons are already built into his life. 

You and I are not so fortunate. We’ll have to plan for it. 

 

Sources

  1.  Vance, A. (n.d.). Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the quest for a fantastic future.   
  2. Schwarzenegger, A., & Petre, P. (n.d.). Total recall: My unbelievably true life story.   
  3. Parmet, H. (1983). JFK, the presidency of John F. Kennedy. New York: Dial Press.   
  4. Schroeder, A. (2008). The snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life. New York: Bantam Books.  

 

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About Ben Austin

My friends call me the illegitimate love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Nye. I’m a bodybuilding-yogi-science loving-foodie bringing an engineering approach to lifestyle design. Join me as I analyze the systems that go into optimal mental and physical performance and explore the stories and tactics of people who set the standard for the rest of us.
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