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Vail Daily column: That which ye sow

Benjamin A. Gochberg
Valley Voices

Strange weather we’ve been having around here. As I’m writing this, the lack of snow on my yard is allowing the grass to grow. I don’t know whether it’s a false spring or not, but I wouldn’t mind at least one more day of great skiing before the season is over. Consider this column a rain dance — but for snow, of course.

The result of the unseasonably warm weather is an early opportunity to plant — although we can’t really plant the one crop with which I have any personal experience … not in my backyard anyway. Depending on what part of the country you are in, wheat crops are planted at all different times of year. Where I spent most of my growing up years, some wheat crops are planted, non-coincidentally, in the spring. Hundreds of thousands of kernels are pushed into the ground by incredibly advanced machinery. Kind of makes you grateful that we aren’t still planting by hand.

Can you imagine doing it with a mule and hand-plow, then having your family follow behind you planting a few seeds at a time? That’s how the human race did it for centuries, and how we still do it in some areas of the world.

There are a lot of lessons you can pick up from human history that might be missed otherwise. We live in a pretty fast world now. Most of what we want can be found and obtained given the right resources within very limited amounts of time. There are things we seek, though, that aren’t found so easily.

You ever walk past a field and see a farmer inspecting every seed or kernel before he puts it in the ground? Me neither. In fact, even centuries ago, farmers knew that not every seed would grow. There’s a certain failure rate no matter how many seeds are planted. Farmers understand this. It would be ridiculous to inspect every seed they plant.

They don’t try to guess which seeds will grow and which ones won’t. After they plant a few in one spot, they don’t hover over the seeds and wait for a few to sprout. They keep planting. They plant the whole field, not even knowing with absolute certainty that the seeds will germinate. In that way, I suppose farming is a literal act of faith and reliance on previous experience.

Farmers try to make sure that the seeds have sufficient resources to have the opportunity to grow. Water, sunshine and halfway decent ground is about all it takes. Even then, some seeds don’t grow. The crop doesn’t fail just because a few seeds fail though. The only thing that would cause the whole crop to fail would be if the farmer just stood over the ground where the seeds that were planted weren’t sprouting for some reason. Can you picture a farmer staring at a patch of barren ground in the middle of a huge field of wheat sprouts? It just wouldn’t make sense. You spend your energy where you see actual growth. If you only grew one stalk of wheat, then you could quite easily count every kernel in the head. Interestingly, you could never count how many more stalks of wheat those kernels could grow into though.

I realize I’m suddenly sounding biblical. You can see what you’d like, I suppose. Actually, when I think like this, I’m thinking about human beings, relationships, and more specifically, success in business. You see, every day we are surrounded by people who, believe it or not, are a lot like kernels of wheat. Some grow, some don’t. Some come out of the ground looking like wheat, and are actually something else altogether. When you find yourself in a relationship with someone, sometimes they produce just enough to bake a single loaf of bread and sometimes they produce enough for thousands of loaves of bread. I recommend chasing the bread … whatever bread happens to mean to you. It can be love, support and companionship. It can also be profits, referrals and information. The principle of chasing the growth applies in multiple types of human relationships.

In this way, I suppose, you don’t really have to worry about sorting through relationships right from the start. People sort themselves. We tend to attract that which we are. Beyond that, we tend to attract people living at the pace that we are choosing to set. When all is said and done, I suppose we’ve just got to go out and start planting the seeds. No sense in waiting for them to sprout.

Ben Gochberg is a commercial lender and business finance consultant. He plays, lives, works and is trying to do a little good in Eagle County. He can be reached for business inquiries or free consultation at 970-471-3546.


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