As a leadership and business coach, I am often asked to help business owners accelerate their results and business development. We strategize about generating more revenue and squeezing out more profit. In a recent session with a very promising business owner, we began exploring the idea of seed-time and harvest. In “business-speak”, this is making investments in their business. You might even call this business karma, or generating better results.
As we began to explore this, the owner expressed that she had no more money to invest. She was stretched to the end of her financial capacity. Having been there, I was able to reassure her that business investing is so much more than just money. See, the concept of seed-time and harvest, or business karma, involves so much more than cash.
In my view the finest entrepreneurs on the planet are farmers. Farmers risk seed and sweat by investing in the soil, trusting that the external surroundings will all somehow align to serve their goals. And one thing every farmer understands is that in the end, we reap what we sow. If my current outcomes and results are not what I imagined or hoped for, the good news is that I can plant new seeds. New results demand new decisions, new processes, and new seeds. Intentions and aspirations have limited value in and of themselves. New results require new choices and new directions. Wisdom patiently teaches us that it’s not what you intend that makes the difference, or even what you dream of, but it’s what you do.
So how can we exert some influence over our results, be it in business, relationships, or any area? In other words, what are the principles for successful harvests?
Success Principle #1 – We have what we have.
You have what you have. You got what you got. When the business owner above shared her lack of financial resources, there is no sorrow or shame there. You have what you have. My advice to her was to celebrate what she did have. In her case, this was passionate commitment to her cause, deep relationships with her customers, an innovative business concept, and a strong social media following for her business. Gratefully celebrate and embrace what you have, because there is strength in that.
Success Principle #2 – We plant what we have.
It makes sense to gratefully celebrate and embrace what you have because you can only plant what you have. And planting is critical. No outcomes will be produced without planting.
This speaks to contributing your very best, each and every day. Those who plant reach deep into their bag of skill and capacity and talent and expertise, dig up the soil, and plant what they have. There is a sense of commitment, stability, and focus when you think about planting.
Our daily self-evaluation is also not so much about what we harvest, but what we plant. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant”. What are you planting today in terms of beliefs, thoughts, actions, and interactions? This is important because these will surely be your harvest tomorrow.
Success Principle #3 – We empower what we nurture.
In anything we plant, the principle is always the same: What we nurture we empower. If we are planting seeds for a healthier relationship, then taking steps to nurture a healthier relationship daily is key. If we are planting seeds for a more vibrant business, then building our business by nurturing our network, website, and relationships with key customers is critical. If we are planting seeds for a stronger self-concept, than taking steps to nurture this with positive relationships and healthy environments is paramount. We empower what we nurture.
Success Principle #4 – We protect what we love.
In order to produce, what the farmer plants needs protection. In the natural world, crops can experience disease and predators which rob their fruitfulness. In our lives, there are many forces at work to undermine our productivity and effectiveness. We protect what we love, and so if our goal is a healthier relationship, or more vibrant business, or stronger self-concept, we need to protect what we have planted and are nurturing in order to see the harvest come.
Success Principle #5 – We reap what we sow.
In Buddhist tradition, karma refers to action driven by intention which leads to future consequences. A person sows a seed, and there is a time lag during which a mysterious and invisible process takes place. Then the plant pops up and can be harvested.
Life is boomerang. What you give, you get. You are free to make any decision you wish. But you are not free from the consequences of that decision.
Planting the “right” seeds in order to change or improve outcomes is critical. Early each day, I look back at the previous day and reflect on the outcomes I experienced, and ask if I want changed or enhanced outcomes in my tomorrow, because if I do, I need to plant them today. Life is an echo: What you send out, comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you.
If you want kindness, be kind. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want help, be helpful. If you want love, be loving. If you want respect, respect others. If you want to innovate, get out of the box. If you want success in business, sow the seeds necessary for success in business. We reap what we sow, and so ultimately, what we harvest we have chosen.
In life and in business, there is often not a lot I can do about my results in this moment. But in this moment, literally right now, I can celebrate what I do have, plant what I have, nurture what I have planted, and protect it. I can plant new seeds today in order to reap a new harvest tomorrow. Whether the harvest you are looking for is emotional, physical, relational, financial, or professional, these principles will yield new outcomes in your life, and in the lives of those you value most.