Thursday, December 26, 2013

Are Givers More Likely to Succeed at Farming

Adam Grant in his revolutionary book, "Give and Take" about pro-social motivation — the desire to help others, independent of easily foreseeable payback.  Says there are three "interaction styles" in the business environment. These interaction styles are the giver, the matcher and the taker.

Givers give without expectation of immediate gain; they never seem too busy to help, share credit actively and mentor generously. Matchers go through life with a list in mind, they give when they can see how they will get something of equal value back. Takers want to win in every exchange; they manage up and defend their turf. Most people surveyed fall into the matcher category — but givers, Grant says, are overrepresented at both ends of the spectrum of success: they are the doormats who finish last, and they are the stars whose giving motivates them or distinguishes them as leaders.

Much of Grant’s book describes the difference between the givers who are exploited and those who end up as models of achievement. The most successful givers, Grant explains, are those who rate high in concern for others and in self-interest. They are strategic in their giving — they give to other givers and matchers, so that their work has the maximum desired effect; they are cautious about giving to takers; they give in ways that reinforce their social ties; and they consolidate their giving into chunks, so that the impact is intense enough to be gratifying.

Grant’s example presents a golden rule: Unless the person on the other end is a proven taker, just do it — collaborate, offer up, grant the favor.

From the point of creativity, Grant’s undiscriminating helpfulness also reaps professional benefits. “The best ideas occur to people who are touching multiple worlds and domains. And are at the nexus of a lot of them.”

So what has all of this to do with farming?

You may want to take this into consideration when you are hiring employees for the farm and Grant's book describes how to do this.

I believe we see Grant's three interaction styles in the farming community as well. I'll bet there are an undo proportion of farmers that will give you the shirt off of their back (nice guys finish last), but haven't figured out how to be smart in their giving and can put forth themselves as models of achievement and leaders. As farmers we should be willing to make smart investments of our time in younger farmers that will represent the future of agriculture. There are many young families that are trying to get started in farming that should be the beneficiaries of our time and mentoring. \\

Whether you are a customer, a peer, mentor, teacher or farm leader. Choose how you invest carefully and your investment will be returned many fold. Give lavishly to high potential agricultural endeavors and you can move the needle significantly. Vote with your fork and your investment will move farming in the right direction. We are at a cross roads of change in farming, the people who buy and use our products want to know where they come from and want accountability for the production process.

I also think there is much truth in the comments about being at the nexus of many domains. Technology, politics, financial, agricultural organizations, and community business relationships all can have intersection points with the farm community

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