I have been reflecting a lot recently on what I wish I knew when coming into our farming business. I am not sure that having all the information in the world would have made it easier – it is just one of those experiences you need to jump in the deep end and experience for yourself.
One thing that would have benefited me would be to have a much greater understanding of my “why”. Having a better understanding of myself and my values would have helped me to find solace in my role within our farming business and greater fulfilment in my day-to-day life.
Knowing what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning means that you can do all that you can to actively pursue what sets your soul on fire. It means that you can show up and be happier in the daily grind.
Simon Sinek is the author behind “Start with Why” (if you have not read this book, do yourself a favour and grab a copy – it’s a gamechanger). Throughout the book, Sinek provides examples of thought leaders who all started with “why” and describes that these people realised that others will not truly buy into a product, service, movement or idea until they understand the “why” behind it.
Sinek argues that if organisations have a strong sense of why, they understand their purpose. Once you have determined the reason why the organisation exists, you can shift your focus to how the organisation is going do things and what it is the organisation does (see image of Sinek’s “Golden Circle” above).
Since publishing “Start with Why” in 2009, Sinek has gone on to write other books and give presentations right across the world with the goal to help individuals find their “why”. He believes that with a sense of purpose, people can show up in their everyday lives and feel inspired and fulfilled by the life they lead.
What has struck me recently is that all the farmers I interact with have a strong sense of “why” – they get up each day and do what they love and continue to do it despite the challenges we face regularly in agriculture, like weather patterns or natural disaster. The exact “why” is likely going to vary from farmer to farmer, but the commonality is that they can pursue their why through farming.
There is no mistaking that my husband is a farmer. The navy-blue cotton drill shirt, ripped jeans and a cap discoloured by the salt of his sweat and the red dust from the ground he tends to are the dead giveaways. There is not a single moment where his mind is not on what is next in his daily grind – looking at market trends, or forecasting the weather for the next week, month and season. He is always happy to sit with anyone and talk about what is happening on the farm, regardless of whether they want to hear it or not.
Despite farmers having a strong “why”, I am left asking myself whether the other members of the farming business have the same sense of purpose.
This was certainly a phrase that I regularly heard but didn’t take much notice of. At least, I didn’t realise the truth of it until I was in the thick of our first-year trading as a farming business partnership. For someone that did not have a strong sense of purpose, I found this idea difficult to comprehend.
Despite the obvious challenges, I do love the lifestyle that being on the farm allows us to live. The wide-open spaces, the crisp fresh air, and being part of our rural community are all reasons why being on the land is so great. But I don’t want to dedicate my day-to-day to the farm. Of course, I do my part in supporting our farming business (i.e., I am master bookkeeper and escort driver, with my tractor “L-plates”) but I don’t want to be out in the paddock daily. The farm is not part of my “why”, and I think this is the case for many people that marry into a farming business.
I have a strong desire to help others to overcome challenges and show up in their lives so they can be their authentic selves, show up and be part of their families, and give back to their community.
Realising my why has allowed me to focus on how I want to live out my values and what I want to achieve. It has set me on this journey to pursue opportunities that feed my soul. Doing so is allowing me to have greater satisfaction in my life which in turns allows me to do the jobs that do not excite me in the slightest, like doing the books or playing escort driver. I can tackle those tasks because I know I have something else to look forward to.
Living into your values is a journey, not a destination. By no means do I feel that I have reached nirvana having realised my “why”, but now I know I am certainly on a better path that may get me there.
So, my advice? Spend the time thinking about your “why”. Read Sinek’s book, listen to his Ted Talk, do what you can to realise your purpose so that you can turn up in every facet of your life and live with integrity. If you show up as the best version of yourself, you, your family and your business will benefit.
Simon Sinek – Start with Why