Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Average Isn't Enough

As I was thinking about the new year and goal setting,. I was considering whether we should be satisfied with average? That is not always and easy question to answer. For example, if the average mileage of your car is 100 miles per gallon average isn't so bad. If the fleet average for pick-up trucks is 12 miles per gallon then that isn't so good. So the answer is, "it depends".

So what is average anyway? For the purposes of this post average is the norm, it is what the typical person does. It is the status quo or the existing state of the society.

I have found in my various endeavors that average is rarely enough achieve my goals. For example,  goals academically, for my family, for personal enrichment, and for the farm.

Academically it takes a little work to exceed average. If you are going to spend the time and, these days, a mountain of money, you should make the absolute best out of your studies, whether high school, undergraduate or graduate school. The absolute best investment you can make is in yourself and your education.

To build a strong family takes a little work and a plan. Start with your spouse: dream together, plan together, budget together, and spend time together. Marriage is a with me experience that takes two to be successful.

The average time fathers spend with their children is typically much lower than they'd like. When my children were young I was working 50-60 hours a week at a job off the farm. I liked the work but needed to be spending more time with my children.  So I put more emphasis on farming and engaging my children in the process.  We do farming together as a family and I know my children well because of it. They have learned life skills, people skills and a little about farming too.  Dad's especially can make a world of difference with their children, but you have to invest the time.

Personal enrichment means different things to different people. Many get caught up in entertainment versus authentic enrichment. For example, TV, internet and sports can be a significant distraction to many of us. On average Americans spend 34 hours watching TV and 5 hours a week on the internet.  That is almost as much time as we spend on the 40 hour work week. What would happen if we spent just half of this time learning a new skill in some favorite area.

For example, I like to cook, Lisa likes to sew, Reed likes electronics, Jenna likes photography, and Andrea likes music. (Some of us like more than one thing and as a family our "likes" are strongly coincident, ie. they overlap.) Our family has tried this approach and we are becoming accomplished in these interests and arts. We are more satisfied, giving and happy when we pursue authentic enrichment.

I'm not sure if there is any such thing as an average farm. As Garrison Keillor might have said,"Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the fields are weed free, all the pastures are green and all the farms are above average." Garrison didn't say this of course, I did, but I am just as passionate about farming as Garrison is about Lake Wobegon in the prairie Home Companion. So like Lake Wobegon, on our farm average isn't enough. We focus on excellence in freshness, quality, flavor and value. Those are the metrics most evident to our customers. But our real passion is improving the land, soil and discovery of new methods and relearning old methods to steward our farm.

We explored the concept of average for academic, family, personal enrichment, and farming. While average is the norm, we conclude "average isn't enough", and excellence is needed to achieve many goals in life.

Something to consider as you plan for the new year.

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