Business & Strategy

Learning from our farmers: Laws of sowing and reaping

In life, if we just laze and do nothing, we should not expect great results or success. You need to put in efforts to become successful

Updated: Dec 19, 2016 09:41:08 AM UTC

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Life can be about many things and when things are going good, it becomes a cycle of chasing dreams and happiness that peddles on the efforts required to achieve them. One can dream of a great future for loved ones and peace and happiness for themselves, but has to work towards achieving it. While nobody can be stopped from achieving what one desires, a key factor of achievement is to put in dedicated efforts to see dreams turning into reality.

Achieving one’s dream definitely comes at a price. We all have heard stories of dedication and perseverance that turn out to be inspirational anecdotes. People put in their hearts and souls into achieving what they dream of, and it is hard work itself that acts as the secret ingredient to their super successful and enviable life.

Just like common sense, or the adage of ‘sowing and reaping’ as it is better known as, is much like the laws of gravity. You know it or don’t, you like it or not; but it will apply to you.

Being a science that justifies better rewards for working hard, and scant rewards for working less, laws of ‘sowing and reaping’ are at play all the time. Just that if you work hard, you will reap better rewards than the amount of efforts you had put in. Let’s understand this with a fantastic example that came out of Rio Olympics 2016. Many of you would not have heard of the Indian Race Walker Manish Kumar Rawat who came 13th in the competition. A small-time waiter from Uttarakhand who was laughed upon by the people of his hometown for the posture of the sport where no feet can be up from the ground anytime, never gave up his grit and determination to compete in the Olympics and in the process, beat former medallists and world champions to make a name for himself in the sport. This goes to show that apart from grit and determination, karma is the omnipresent factor differentiating the achievers from the been theres, and is the single largest denominator of success, which lets individuals leap over the finishing line with that extra effort.

‘Law of sow and reap’ is something which best exemplifies karma, where it is well said, ’Whatever you will sow today, you will reap in the future.’ The three laws of ‘sow and reap strategy’ - You have to sow before you reap
- You will reap what you sow
- You will reap more than you sow
illustrates the tenets of karma, and how one should utilise the ‘sow and reap’ mantra to achieve professional and personal success.

We all admire many people for their immense success that they have achieved in their lives. But for them, and numerous achievers like them, success has come at a cost. The cost is of hard work, where they have reaped the fruits of labour, cultivated on the hard bed of perseverance. If we notice their hard work, we would realise that it was all the sowing they did. Just like the seeds we sow of which only handful fructify, these achievers also did so many things that helped them reap what they sowed.

This is the law of ‘sow and reap’, where if one puts in best efforts to give themselves the best education, training and coaching today, one shall definitely see results being achieved in times to come.

Take for example, one of the greatest politicians and visionaries America has ever seen – Abraham Lincoln. From failing in business, to being defeated in state legislature, and from having nervous breakdowns to having a failed relationship, life brought misfortunes upon the great man. But the challenges could never break the luminary; he kept bouncing back to fight another battle. Similarly, while we sow the seeds of success, there is no guarantee that the first efforts will always be successful. Just like the vagaries of nature make seeds succumb to weather, some eaten away by moths and birds and many dying within the fructifying process, yet some of the seeds blooming in full glory give us a golden harvest; life makes us try various things before offering us the taste of success. All that we need is to believe in it to keep on sowing because sooner or later, the reaping will happen. What is important is to keep up the efforts in sowing, and reaping will follow.

Who better to teach us the principles of ‘sowing and reaping’, than our beloved farmers who sow and reap tirelessly all through the years to satiate the fire in our bellies! A farmer sows seeds, planning to reap a good produce. He knows that if he sows the right seed at the right time and bestows his hard work to nurture the crop, a bountiful harvest will be resultant of his hard work. Knowing very well that the harvest cannot happen without sowing first, the farmer puts his best efforts to sow well. Also the fact that a farmer knows of his reaping while sowing lets him make providence for the future where he is well aware that sowing apples will only give him apples, and not oranges. Similarly in life, if we just laze and do nothing, we should not expect to be differentiated in the results we get. We are as good as the efforts that we put in and hence will not become a world-class swimmer if we keep playing football. Just like one seed can bear many fruits, similarly in life, passion and career will take care of all hobbies and other expenses. Always reaping more than what one sows, lets the reaper benefit from more than what they invest. This adage of a farmer implying the laws of ‘sow and reap’ best underlines the maxim of life where we get what we deserve as our actions today, define our gains tomorrow. If you are smart enough to mould your today with tenacity, your future is bound to be resplendent like the golden stems of wheat.

The farming principles have been most useful as a leader when you are going through taxing times in business or meeting targets and trying to make things happen. The principals allow us to contemplate each principle at a time, subtly providing the spirit to bounce back and keep trying harder. It also allows hope to come up victorious, even after all the doors feel shut out.

The first principle of "sow first and then reap” makes you realise that one needs to be patient while sowing, and keep sowing to expect results to start coming in. One needs to have the conviction that to get considerable results, more seeds should be planted. There are times that earlier sowing gets lost due to various reasons like the birds eating them or the soil being too hard for the seeds to breakthrough. Similarly, a manager also needs to understand and relate his leadership style to what would get duplicated in the teams.

The second principal says that “one only reaps what he sows”. Hence when one sows compassion, courtesy, understanding, balanced aggression, logic, and planning into the success mix, then only one can expect this positive effect to be duplicated into the team and create a contagious culture that multiplies the organisational output.

The third principal proposes, “one reaps manifolds of whatever he sows”. One seed opens up opportunities to procreate many plants and numerous fruits. These laws allow a manager to understand the foundation of what successful leadership is. Although there are many others critical aspects which combine to create cutting-edge leadership, these three key principals remind us of the simple truths that need to be followed to succeed. These principals allow us to compare our thought times with nature and say – ‘let's give it one more try because we have seen it work in nature and we will make it work for ourselves’.

Someone has worthily quoted that, ‘Today is the Father of Tomorrow’. What we are today, and how we will be tomorrow is a result of what we have been yesterday. This principal of ‘sow and reap’ is irrevocable, for nobody can escape from its inevitability. Best is to understand this adage and ingrain in our everyday working to ensure that what we sow today, is with an eye to the future. As is best laid out in Corinthians 9:6-7, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

Article by:
Zubin Zack is the Director and Chief Recognition Strategist for O.C. Tanner – Global Employee Recognition and Engagement Company. Zubin has an experience of twenty years and successfully focused on designing and building sustainable businesses from the ground up. His mission is to shape and execute business strategies including creating awareness, building credibility and educating key business leaders.

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