The Time To Plant

A few years ago, my wife and I decided in lieu of grand vacations around the world, which we did in our thirties and forties, we would join a country club. Not the full-blown, six-figure, gold-commitment level, but the lesser social membership that still gives us access to everything else, tennis, the pool, dining, etc. It’s been expensive for our budget, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, especially in the 100°F summer heat of Utah.

We’ve been there less this spring and summer because of COVID, but this weekend we visited several times, and it was nice to see members we’ve become friends with over the years. Invariably when I would see someone at the pool, locker room, or restaurant, we’d exchange pleasantries and ask each other about our businesses. Now in a pandemic, you’d kind of expect everyone to be in some type of contraction, but nope, not at my club.

Either they’re all pathological liars or they’re competing for Entrepreneur of the Year, as every response I received was “best year ever,” “crushing it,” or I’m just treating it like a vacation, and you should too Scott.”

Vacation? Are you joking?

Insert finger in back of mouth and induce vomiting. Twice, please.

I don’t know about you, but this isn’t my best year ever. It’s quantifiably, unequivocally my worst year ever…and unlike some, I still have my job. Similar to many, my investments are decimated, my compensation will be about 60% of last year, and any momentum I was building as an author, speaker, and according to some, a thought leader, has generally slowed to a stop.

So what’s the point of this blog, Miller? My encounter with the arrogant aristocrats at my club got me thinking about how many of us are frozen in place. Still employed hopefully, but any momentum we might have been building toward a pivot, promotion, or even significant disruption in our careers is likely stalled or being completely reformulated. It will take many of us years, if ever, to fully recover financially. To those who’ve had family, friends, and colleagues lose their jobs, or worse, their lives, I am mindful and grateful that I still have both.

The devastation takes my breath away when I reflect on it, daily.

For those of us still very much in the professional game but not technically “crushing it,” here’s a thought:

Remember the farming adage that there’s a time to plant, and there’s a time to harvest.

It’s some of the best career advice I’ve ever received. In our professional journeys, there are opportune times to double down on our current roles and learn as much as possible, and there are times to pivot to something new and reap the benefits of our patient investments. I think many of us try to harvest too soon, even in good years when our professional “crops” are booming. Nearly always in our careers, patience, sometimes extreme patience, pays off.

If your crop is overflowing this summer, then harvest away. But if you’re like me and you’ve taken one to the “you know what,” it might well be the perfect time to plant.

Fertilize. Weed. Water. Rake. Hoe. Water some more.

Translate the metaphor into your own career. What does it look like for you to keep planting? Are there investments you can make into your skills, technically and interpersonally, that could build you a bumper crop when it is time for you to harvest, perhaps in 2021, or even 2022, when you’re ready to crush it like the lying jerk that drove off in his Porsche?

What can you do to methodically build back your client base, identify future prospects, perfect your value proposition, carefully research the competition, or even another industry for a future change altogether? This is a perfect time to grow your connections on social media or perhaps more contemplatively, ponder what truly motivates you and brings you joy.

Yes, I’m fairly jealous of the Porsche-driving ass, but that fuels my weeding and raking skills really well.

Look out 2022—it’s gonna be my year! Yours too if you start planting today.

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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