There was once an old farmer who was widely known for having the straightest rows of anyone around. When the other farmers would ask him how he was able to always make his rows so straight he would just smile and say, “You just gotta set a goal and stay focused on it.”
All the other farmers would go back to their farms at planting time, get in their tractors, and focus as hard as they could on making their rows straight. But every time they would get to the end of the quarter mile long field and turn around they could see that their rows would curve this way and that depending on the contour of the land. Eventually they all decided that the old farmer just had some sort of sixth sense when it came to making straight rows regardless of how the lay of the land tried to push him.
One year the old farmer decided that his grandson was old enough to start learning the secrets of his trade. He took him out to the fields and explained to him the importance of keeping his rows as straight as possible. He explained how it would allow them to fit in as much crop as possible and make harvesting easier. Then he set him up on the tractor seat and explained to him how to keep the tractor on course no matter what might come in the way.
“You see this line I drew down the front of the windshield. You pick out something on the other side of that there field to be your goal. Now you line up that line on the windshield right over it and drive. Don’t ever let the line deviate off of your goal. If you always stay focused on that goal you’ll have the straightest rows around.”
With that instruction the farmer left his grandson to start plowing his field while he ran some errands in town. But when he got back he was flabbergasted to see the winding rows that his grandson had made out in the field. In a fit of anger he walked up to his grandson and the conversation went something like this:
“Feller, I gave you a simply set of instructions. What happened? Why didn’t you do like I told you to.”
“But Papa, I did do just like you told me. I picked out a goal on the other side of the field, lined up that line on it and drove straight towards it, doing my best to never let my goal get away from the line.”
“If that were so then you would have nice straight rows instead of this rats nest of serpent trails.”
“I did just like you said. It ain’t my fault the rows turned out crooked. I would pick out one cow to line up on but the dang things would always start wandering off and making it awful hard to keep the line centered in on it.”
The old farmer had forgotten to mention a critical point. He had forgotten to tell his grandson that he needed to focus on an immovable goal that would always stay put, like a tree or fence post. Instead, the boy picked out a cow that lead him all over the place and wasted his time and effort.
I believe in the importance of setting goals and staying focused on them. Sometimes there will arise a need to change our goals as we mature or understand the world better. But when our goals are drastically changing every few years, months, weeks, etc. we find that we end up chasing them in circles and making a mess out of all of it. It’s never too late, or too early, to sit down and take some time to figure out what your big goals are so that you can set them in your sights and start working towards them.
For additional reading you can also take a look at these related articles:
Staying Focused on the Task at Hand
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