At various times in my life I have lived on a farm, and I guess at heart I’m a country boy. One important lesson I have learned from living on the land is “the law of the harvest.” As you sow, so shall you reap.
In order to have an abundant crop this year, you have to follow particular steps, in order. You have to cultivate and prepare the ground. You have to plant and sow the seeds. You have to water and tend to your growing plants. Finally, you have to bring in the harvest at the right time and put it in a safe place.
If you try to take a shortcut with any of these steps, all of your efforts will have been for nothing.
“You must get good at one of two things: planting in the spring or begging in the fall.
– Jim Rohn
The types of seeds you plant will determine your harvest. You cannot plant seeds of wheat and expect to reap a harvest of carrots. You can’t plant lemon tree seedlings and hope for an apple orchard.
This “law of the harvest” principle can be applied to careers, businesses, relationships, marriages, financial independence, physical fitness and mental health.
In fact, a key element of the law of the harvest has to do with our mind and our attitude towards life.
Earl Nightingale explained it this way, in his best-selling audio program titled The Strangest Secret:
“The human mind is much like a farmer’s land. The land gives the farmer a choice. He may plant in that land whatever he chooses. The land doesn’t care what is planted. It’s up to the farmer to make the decision.
The mind, like the land, will return what you plant, but it doesn’t care what you plant. If the farmer plants two seeds — one a seed of corn, the other nightshade, a deadly poison, waters and takes care of the land, what will happen?
Remember, the land doesn’t care. It will return poison in just as wonderful abundance as it will corn. So up come the two plants — one corn, one poison. As it’s written in the Bible, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
The human mind is far more fertile, far more incredible and mysterious than the land, but it works the same way. It doesn’t care what we plant … success … or failure. A concrete, worthwhile goal … or confusion, misunderstanding, fear, anxiety, and so on. But what we plant it must return to us.”
As with the mind, so with life. Life doesn’t care what we plant, but what we plant will grow.
Planting the right seeds and following a process of growth will reward us with a bountiful harvest. Planting the wrong seeds and neglecting the process will create a thorny patch of weeds.
Businesses and Careers
If you are trying to grow a business, either a company you own or one where you work as an employee, you will often see other people focused on the wrong goals and taking shortcuts or skipping over important steps in the process.
On one hand I’m all for finding an easy, quick way to do any job. However on the other hand you still have to get the job done and get it done right. You can’t just skip over some steps along the way.
In growing a business or a career, the first step is to look for fertile ground and good growing conditions. This is known as market research.
For example, in the movie rental business we see that recently the typical walk-in rental stores such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video have lost a lot of market share and lost a lot of money.
Yet at the same time, the vending machine company Redbox, and the home delivery / viewing-on-demand company Netflix have gained market share and earned a lot of money.
How much money? In a recent quarterly report, Netflix earned $444 million while Blockbuster lost$435 Million.
These companies share the same fertile growing conditions here – the demand for video entertainment. But the methods of delivery (the seeds) are causing some companies to lose millions of dollars while helping other companies to earn millions of dollars. Having fertile land is great but you have to grow “the right stuff” there.
Once we find fertile conditions, the next step is to find some of the right seeds. In this case the right thing to grow, as seen by the earnings reports of the businesses I mentioned, are the new service systems of vending machines and home delivery / viewing-on-demand.
Next we cultivate the ground and plant those seeds. Sitting in the house in front of the television won’t get the crop planted. You have to dig in and work and get your hands dirty, in the best sense of the phrase. This is where many people get stuck. They want to skip this process. What they need to do is to learn to enjoy the process.
Look at the process as a game. Have you ever played a card game, a board game or a sports game? You didn’t just play the last minute at the end did you? No, you enjoyed the whole process as it unfolded. This is the way to enjoy all kinds of goal achievements and even relationships as they unfold and grow and make progress.
The law of the harvest requires that we take action. In the business world, people will talk an idea to death and never get started growing the company, growing the new product or service, growing new relationships with customers and vendors, etc. We must get started planting some seeds of what we want to see grow. We can’t wait around for perfect conditions. The world has never been perfect and it never will be.
Once we make the commitment to what we have decided to grow, we have to tend to the budding sprouts that we have planted. Care for them. Nurture and protect them.
Farmers don’t get impatient, hoping for “instant crops.” They don’t give up on a field of perfectly good seedlings because the plants are not growing fast enough, and then replace them with a new “improved” crop in place of the former one. That would be crazy, right?
Yet business people will drop a perfectly good idea and run after the latest, greatest next-big-deal to come along. They get a good thing sprouted and starting to grow and then they stop caring for it and let it die out.
How many crops have you let die on the vine in that way, in work, in relationships and in life?
I’m sure we have all made that mistake, of chasing after the new shiny object (or perfect person or opportunity) and neglecting to nurture the good thing we already have in our lives.
The thing to remember here is that when you have a good thing going and showing promise, give it lots of TLC. Give it your full attention. Give it a chance to grow. Be patient with it. Love it.
If your child were taking his or her time learning to walk, how long would you be patient until you gave up on the goal? You’d never give up, ever. Give your dreams that same kind of love.
Finally, bring in the harvest, enjoy your reward, and make your efforts pay off. Having a brilliant idea and seeing it come into fruition is great for the ego. And doing work you enjoy gives your life purpose. But getting paid a nice sum of money is still an important reason for doing business.
Follow through – all the way to the bank. And put your harvest in a safe place.
In personal relationships, the goal is to enjoy plenty of quality time with a wonderful person. Yet how much quality time do we actually spend every day, week, month?
Keep in mind that time waits for no one. It flies by fast. This too shall pass, everything in the world is constantly changing. Enjoy life while you can.
Go do something really fun this weekend. If you worked hard on your relationship, you deserve to celebrate it with your loved one.
When you have a good relationship, it is easy to take the other person for granted. Try doing this: Think of ten things about the other person that you are grateful for and that make you happy. Mention some of these things to your partner and watch their face light up with a warm smile.
Ask yourself, what seeds have I planted in my relationship this week?
Seeds of trust or seeds of doubt?
Seeds of joy or seeds of anger?
Seeds of romance or seeds of argument?
Words are like seeds. We should choose them wisely.
A kind word can find a home in the heart and blossom there into more kindness. Meanwhile, harsh words said in anger can grow a jungle of resentment.
We have all said things we wish we could take back. It is simply a flaw in our human nature. However the past is over and done with. What we can do right now is to start planting kind words in our relationships.
It doesn’t cost anything to say a few kind words such as please, thank you, you look great, I appreciate you, I love you… those types of kind words are the seeds of happy relationships.
Remember too that all gardens are eventually the target of pests, bugs and slugs that want to gnaw away on what you have put so much love and work into growing.
Be careful to protect your relationship from outside influences that might not have your best interests at heart. There are plenty of miserable troublemakers out there, and unfortunately it is true that misery loves company.
These sad souls are very jealous of happy couples, and they find it entertaining to cause trouble in another person’s relationship. Just because you are not paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Don’t let them sew their bitter seeds of discontent into your healthy, growing relationship.
These “pests” are not something to worry too much about, just a potential problem to be aware of so you can avoid them when you see their bad behavior starting to happen.
We have all seen people who earned fortunes only to lose everything a short time later. When someone starts making serious money, it is easy to get carried away and spend it like a young sailor on shore leave.
Remember to heed the lesson from the Bible story about Joseph, and the seven good harvest years and seven bad years. Save some of your harvest in a safe place and keep it in reserve for a rainy day or tough times, the way Joseph advised. That Joseph was a smart guy.
Avoid debt as much as you can. Debt is like a plague of locusts with ravenous appetites that eat up everything you try to grow. No matter what you plant, it all goes to feed the locusts. It becomes a viscous cycle.
Every time you are making a financial decision, ask yourself if this action will contribute to growing your financial freedom or growing your debt and financial servitude.
We are usually moving in one direction or the other, gaining more financial freedom – or giving up more financial freedom.
As long as we are moving in the right direction, life is good and is getting better every day.
One way to improve a financial situation is through gratitude. Being thankful for what we have helps us avoid the trap of trying to keep up with the neighbors and their conspicuous consumption. And it opens our hearts and minds to receive further abundance.
Be sure to give thanks and to celebrate your harvest, no matter how modest or abundant it may be. For much of history, farmers have given thanks with harvest celebrations such as October Fest. In the US we celebrate the “Thanksgiving” holiday.
But why wait a year to be thankful? Every month you can have another Thanksgiving Day celebration, a day when you take time out to appreciate and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Gratitude helps us to be happier in life and more motivated to work on the process some more.
That’s what life is all about. It is a process, a journey, a passing of the seasons where we work and we love and hopefully we give both our best effort.
“Two hallmarks of a healthy life are the abilities to love and to work.”
Yes even problem solving is related to the law of the harvest. As Napoleon Hill wrote, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
We have to look for that seed, search for it as if it is a hidden gift that must be discovered. That way, problems can seem like gifts. No problems, no gifts. Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”
Have you ever gone through a difficult time in life? We all have. Yet later on when we are looking back on that time, we often might say, “I didn’t know it at the time, but later on I realized that problem turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened in my life.”
I can’t begin to tell you how many people I have talked to who have said that very thing.
When a problem comes along, look for the hidden seed that can be grown into something new and good. Put some effort and work into growing that seed. It won’t grow by itself.
Physical and Mental Health
James Allen, the author of As a Man Thinketh, wrote these words about how the law of the harvest can be applied to your mind and your thoughts:
“Your mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so you may tend the garden of your mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts.
By pursuing this process, you sooner or later discover that you are the master gardener of your soul, the director of your life.
Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit. As the reaper of your own harvest, you learn both by suffering and bliss.
Let us alter our thoughts and we will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of our lives.
If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind. There is no physician like cheerful thought for dissipating the ills of the body; there is no comforter to compare with good will for dispersing the shadows of grief and sorrow.
Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul, which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of diving promise and confidence than this—that you are the master of your thoughts, the molder of your character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.
The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
My best wishes to you for a “green thumb,” a healthy garden and an abundant harvest in the days and months ahead. And may you enjoy the process of growing, in every area of your life.