There are some poignant quotes or sayings that just stick with you as you pass through life. Some even convince you to make changes in your life. Here are few that gave me an “Ah-ha” moment and prompted change in myself:
“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” - Dave Ramsey
“If you want to make small changes, change the way you do things but if you want to make major changes change the way you see things.” Don Cambell
“If you want the greatest journey in life, just tell the truth.” - Jordan Peterson
“Freedom is hard work.” -Yeonmi Park
Each one of these quotes has made an impact on me and has made a difference in my life. Of all of those quotes, however, none is more powerful or consequential than just telling the truth. My youngest daughter, Delaney, recently demonstrated why.
Delaney, who is now a senior in high school, has played basketball from grade school all the way through this past year's summer league. Recently, Delaney told me she no longer wanted to play basketball. Her decision had nothing to do with playing time or her skill set, she said she simply no longer enjoyed the game.
As a dad, hearing this was difficult for me. I wondered why Delaney would not finish her senior year as a member of the basketball team. (Trust me when I say we “locked horns” on several conversations about her decision.) I held out hope she would be at the opening-day practice but she stayed true to her words and chose not to play.
A couple weeks later, while listening to a podcast by Jordan Peterson, I heard his quote, “If you want the greatest journey in life just tell the truth.” Then it hit me of how much courage it took for my daughter to tell me her truth of no longer wanting to play basketball. That evening I shared the quote with her and told her how proud I was—how her difficult, but truthful decision, demonstrated her courage. By the way, I’m still not saying I agree with her decision, but now I respect it.
Many of us go through life not being fully truthful or not stating our true thoughts. We’re often concerned about undesirable outcomes and consequences, so it’s just easier to just go along with someone's else’s path or journey. When I started my regenerative ag journey, it was my passion and decision. I never took the time to explain that vision to my family. I just expected them to follow my lead and not ask any questions. I have just recently realized and acknowledged that I never allowed for their input to “tell me the truth.”
So, while we had some time at home this past holiday season, we had “the discussion.” My ask was for my family to “just to be truthful with me.” I assured them I would not be upset with their decisions, and if my vision of the family farm’s future wasn’t consistent with theirs, I wanted them to let me know. In being honest with one another as a family, I believe we can come to a common journey while regenerating our farm.
I have witnessed way too many operations where these conversations never take place. It is easier to just go along and minimize conflict. The unfortunate part is, when succession takes place, absent that honest conversation, the business or operation fails, most often due to the fact that the next generation didn’t share the same passion. AND they never had the courage to tell the truth of their vision and be willing to deal with the outcomes.
The principles of regeneration apply well beyond regenerative agriculture. It struck me recently that even the six principles of soil health are applicable to our own family’s health and wellbeing. Here’s what I mean…
- Context: We have to know one another’s context, thoughts and ideas.
- Minimal disruption: We must be truthful with each other regarding our thoughts and ideas, but also be ready for the outcomes and consequences.
- Living root: Keep the conversation alive by taking the time to frequently talk about the business and its direction.
- Diversity: Embrace the diverse ideas of your family members and discuss possible ways to implement those ideas.
- Armor on the soil: Respect each family member’s visions and armor them with your respect so they can grow and feel valued.
- Animal impact: Learn how to become the person your dog thinks you are.
Many of us in the regenerative ag community understand that our conventional ag colleagues are skeptical or even downright disdainful of our truth. Often, we are concerned with the unintended consequences that might occur if we’re too upfront or direct about that personal truth.
I’ve come to realize that regeneration is not only about building healthy soils but also healthy families. Jordan Peterson says “everyone possesses the ability to tell the truth.” Your social or financial status makes no difference. The reward for being truthful will be the greatest journey you will ever have.