Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Law of the Harvest

I was at a foundation event a few weeks ago, meeting new people and was introduced to a young man who is early in his career, very talented, and obviously a doer. We chatted briefly about what he wanted to be doing and I said something to the effect of him taking the next few years to build up his experience and credibility. His reply caught me off guard.
"Hell to the no! I am not waiting that long. I am making it happen now."
I smiled a knowing smile. I know in my own life, there are far too many instances where I thought I could speed things up a bit, take a short cut, or even skip to the end and hope that the results would be just as good as if I had worked hard the entire time. And I know that each time I've ended up short of the goal.

There is a universal truth called the Law of the Harvest -- masterfully articulated by Stephen Covey, it says two key things: you reap what you sow, and it takes time to cultivate meaningful results. The easy example is the person who wants to lose weight and goes on a crash diet only to gain the weight again a few weeks later versus the person who commits themselves to a changed diet and lifestyle of exercise who earns their weight loss. Or the student who skips classes, crams the night before an exam, hoping to do well on the test versus the person who attends all the classes, regularly reviews their notes, and gets a good night's sleep the night before the test.

How many times have I said, "Hell to the no!" and decided to jump to the end result only to find my victory shallow and short lived...too many.

I think many of today's non profits and cause-related organizations are dealing with the Law of the Harvest in two ways. First, they are constantly battling the expectations of their communities to get to a solution and achieve results all the while knowing that the most effective and permanent solutions are ones that require the long view. Second, these same organizations often operate with a mindset that they can skip certain steps, cut corners, and achieve amazing results.

When it comes to marketing causes, all too often I see organizations skipping the essentials: Customer segmentation, brand positioning, core messaging, and strategy. Rather, these organizations toss out into the marketplace brochures, flyers, advertisements, and donor requests hoping to increase their ability to do more and get more. Most likely, they'll see an increase in need but not in resources.

If your cause is the field you're planting in, and the impact you want to see in the world are the seeds you sow, do you honestly believe that you can skip the growing season, skip the weeding, skip the watering, skip the fertilizing, skip the pest control -- and still reap amazing results? I didn't think so.

As you work in your business, I encourage you to take time to work ON your business. Build out those fundamentals and properly plant/prepare/and work the field of your cause. Pay attention to the Law of the Harvest ensuring that you'll reap what you've sown, and that your harvest is as full as possible.

- David Kinard, PCM

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