Sharpening the Saw

In case you missed the press releases, the Facebook posts, the Tweets, and e-blasts and the posters (you know the old-fashioned kind that hang on the bulletin board)… we have a lot of classes available for new farmers. And we aren’t the only ones offering workshops. If you are a farmer, or an aspiring farmer, there is a class just for you.

Growing Places is a perfect class for people who haven’t started their business yet or who are looking to retool their business.

Building a Sustainable Business is perfect if you have some experience but haven’t really got that business plan developed.

Basic Ag Finance…well, the truth is that you cannot run a business without knowing how to put the numbers together and how to interpret the story those numbers are telling you.

Farm visits and guest speakers are often a feature of workshops..

There are several more classes coming up and I hope you will check them out. But the real point I want to make in this post is not what you should be signing up for but why you should be signing up for a class. Whether you take a class with us or with someone else, it is important that you take a class.

Yes, I want you to have a business plan. Yes, I hope you make a profit. And record-keeping…well if you are going to do it you might as well do it right. Classes and workshops will help with all of that and so much more. But the real benefit of professional development goes beyond any of these goals. It’s all about “sharpening the saw“, which you can read about in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

With a nod to Stephen Covey, here is my list of why you should be making time for some professional development:

  • To test your understanding.  “Yes” you think when the announcement arrives in your email box, “that would be a great class for someone that doesn’t know X. But I’ve been doing this for years…I know all about X“. A class might push you to think outside your comfort zone and try one new thing.
  • To get unstuck. Sometimes business owners get so focused on the next task they forget to look at the bigger picture. Frequently, the way out of a sticky place is that last idea you would have considered. Learning environments foster creativity.
  • To get that idea on paper. Most of us have more good ideas than we have time to implement. The ones that get done are most likely the ones that make it onto paper. Workshops and classes give you that extra ‘push’ to get it written down.
  • To build social networks. It’s true. The best learning in any workshop often takes place during the coffee break. You’ll meet new people, catch up with old friends and share ideas — all very worthy activities.

There is more that could be said but you get the idea. Experience and research both indicate that one of the keys to being successful in life is to continue to put yourself into learning environments. This year find multiple ways to sharpen your saw.


About Mary Peabody

Working with beginning farmers since 1994.
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One Response to Sharpening the Saw

  1. These are great opportunities. There is a large difference between running a farm business and letting the farm run you.

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