It’s fall people, and more specifically, harvest time. I discovered this on my walk. The natural world is giving me all these clues, that’s how I know. See photos. Since we’re talking harvest, we’re also talking farming. Before we jump in, I just want to make one thing clear, I’m not a farmer. I know that might surprise you, the dirt under my nails is actually brownie batter. But, growing up in a rural area made me fascinated by the business of farming and the natural seasons of farming, especially the season of harvest. It’s a beautiful time of year here in Minnesota from a literal perspective and from a metaphorical perspective. Farmers are the ultimate entrepreneur, they run a business. They take time to plant seeds, nurture those seeds into plants for months, and eventually those plants bear fruit. The harvest season is literally about enjoying the fruit of their labor. You finally get paid for months of work. Anyone else have a long sales cycle?
For everything there is a season, there’s a time to plant and a time to harvest.
I think we all understand this cycle. However, whether you’re running a farm, a home, or a business, some of our work isn’t always as cyclical with the calendar as my viewpoint of farming. We find ourselves always planting, always nurturing, and hopefully always harvesting. While that’s the reality of our homes and businesses, this natural season of harvest has me wondering if there is some wisdom in identifying a time to be intentional about certain activities of our businesses, especially harvesting.
Back in 2004 when I was first growing my business as a financial advisor, the planting came very easy to me. I loved prospecting and sharing my work in order to invite people to learn more about what I did as an advisor. When it came time to harvest, to close the business, it took a lot more courage for me. I figured out really quickly that getting people to the finish line didn’t happen by accident. At first, I just planted enough seeds hoping that eventually some of them would bear fruit. I’m sure that would happen to a certain degree. If a farmer plants a field and doesn’t nurture it or water it, some seeds will be successful on their own, mostly due to luck. They were planted in exactly the right spot, with the exact access to light and the exact access to rain. In reality though, what a waste of resources if the farmer just plants a million seeds and then forgets about them. Good luck guys, grow! In the same way, what a waste of our energy if we plant seeds in our life but never nurture them enough to get to harvest time. I learned that a great harvest has something to do with the seeds that were planted but more to do with what happened after the seeds were planted. The additional steps of getting my prospects to a client was in my control and was on me to get done. I needed to do the work to get them to that point of saying yes.
In my mind, the decision a farmer must make to start harvesting seems like it would be easy. You see that the crop is ripe and ready to be harvested and you just harvest. I’m guessing there’s much more to it. If the farmer is like any typical entrepreneur, we know they likely will over think this, there’s an internal battle. Just like you and I, they don’t have a crystal ball. If they let the crops stay out longer, they could get more yield (I’m writing words here like ‘yield’ that I don’t really understand but I’m hoping it works). If they do that, they risk rain and weather ruining the crops. At some point, the farmer has to make the call. In the same way in our lives, if you’ve planted the seeds, you’ve worked to nurture the seeds, you need to make the call and decide to harvest. You need to ask for the business. You need to ask for the raise. You need to ask for the date. You need to ask for the budget and support. You need to take the exam. It will take courage but for everything there is a season, there’s a time to plant and there’s a time to harvest. I want to challenge you that the time to harvest is now.
As a new business owner, I had some misplaced guilt when I received financial gain and success when my clients would make decisions to hire me and implement my advice. In response to my feelings, one of my leaders at the time said “Elena, you serve no one when your clients receive your advice and don’t implement it. When they say yes and implement the advice, you know you’re serving people. Stop making it about you. It’s not about you, it’s about them.” In other words, you serve no one if you just throw a bunch of seeds out there and don’t nurture them to the harvest. If the seeds were planted and nurtured in your home, in your organization or in your business, take this nudge and know it’s time to harvest. We don’t serve anyone if we’re just planting seeds all day long. Step out in courage and harvest the crops.
Let’s pause on courage for a minute. Harvesting is all about courage. In my opinion, it’s one of the biggest ‘muscles’ I see in successful people. Notice, I don’t say ‘it’s one of the most common character traits I see in successful people.’ That implies that you have courage, or you don’t. Courage doesn’t work like that. We all have a courage muscle. It just depends on whether you’re using the courage muscle enough to strengthen it and grow it. The most successful people I know use the courage muscle a lot. It’s a lot easier to access courage when it’s aligned with our ‘why.’ When we’re feeling scared, when we’re experiencing doubt, we may need to take five seconds and access our ‘why’ and then step forward in courage. It’s not about us, it’s about serving people. There’s no perfect time to harvest, the time is now.
My challenge to you going into this fourth quarter is to make the decision to access your ‘why,’ your courage muscle and harvest the crops you planted. The harvest season is literally about enjoying the fruits of your labor. Don’t plant seeds for the sake of planting. Get your people and business to the finish line. Harvest the crops. Then make sure to celebrate your courage and results.
If you are feeling the nudge, put a plan together to harvest your crops, to get the results. Access your ‘why’ and grab hold of courage and do the dang thing. If you need some help or accountability, phone a friend or phone me. One of my personal goals this quarter is to do things every day that get me to a point of needing to access my courage muscle. I want to do this in my faith, in my marriage and family, in my work, and in my health. In each area of my values, I’m wanting to challenge myself in doing things that require me to access courage. I know that if I’m doing enough courageous things, I’m getting closer to harvest. Join me in this challenge.
In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs you to encourage her to harvest her crops. Can you challenge her to access her ‘why’ and grab hold of her courage to harvest her crops drive results. Also, don’t forget to help her celebrate her success! Maybe you’ve successfully walked through this and can just be someone’s biggest cheerleader. If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!
EncourageHer Leader’s Corner:
As a leader or business owner, you have a unique opportunity to create a season of harvest right now for you and your team. Whether you have a specific cyclical business and the season to harvest is now, or not, there’s no time like the present. Can you use the natural season of fall to rally your team to drive the results they’ve been working hard to drive, to focus on bringing in the business and closing the deal. If your year fiscal year ends 12/31, this is a great time to rally the troops.
Does everyone on your team know how they can contribute to a successful harvest or year end? You hold the power to decide that this is a focus right now. Remember from last week, once we tell our brains a story about what’s going to happen, our crazy powerful brains will work behind the scenes to make the vision/story we tell ourselves come true. Set a goal and vision for you and your team . Remind them of the why. This isn’t about them, it’s about the client/customer. Challenge each person to unleash their courage muscle. Then don’t forget to celebrate the courage and the results.
If you need support or coaching, or an accountability partner in this area of your business, please reach out to me to learn more about the work that I do as a coach.
I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!