Those in the upper Midwest know the struggles of a long cold winter and appreciate every green bud, ray of sunshine and flower breaking through the earth; we take stock.   We rake and clean up what has been left of winter and dispose of the accumulated debris.  We check for winter’s damage and losses.   We plan what needs to be done for our yard, flowerbeds, gardens and beyond.

At our 80 acre organic farm, we have welcomed the new crop of interns eager to improve their farming skills and experience an alternative way of life. This year they hail from Ohio and Massachusetts.  It is always an exciting process to learn the new personalities and individual accomplishments.  The intern from Massachusetts walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail last summer, all 2, 181 miles of it!

In building a good farm, you must have good crops.  Good crops come from good soil and it is imperative to assess and add what is missing.    In addition, there is the plan and process implementation.  My husband’s 85 year old grandfather, who had been an organic truck farmer all of his life (although no one called him that back then)used to say…”if a man starts farming at age 20 and dies at age 85, he only has 65 opportunities to get it right”.   Then, like now, it is important to take stock and determine  what experience or talent is missing that might make the season go more smoothly or with fewer delays, i.e. mechanical expertise or a new tractor,  companion planting, crop spacing, crop choice, etc.  What did the customers want last year that wasn’t planted, or was not planted in great enough quantity?  What was planted in too great a quantity and could not be sold?  What has become the new “must have designer vegetable” because The Food Network hyped its anti-oxidant/anti aging qualities?

In a similar way, so much can be taken in by observing our own professional lives. From good soil comes success.  It is important to regularly take stock.  We need to visualize the outcome of the project, like the fall harvest. Self-awareness is the key to growth and certainly key to any project success.  We need to know our own strengths and weaknesses and that of the team. We need to know what environments bring out the best in us personally and how to create the most fertile ground for the success of my team.    We need to know what works and what doesn’t and why.   As leaders we need to build on strengths and manage the weaknesses by mentoring or training, supporting or encouraging, weeding out or changing positions of our team members so that at the end of the project, like a good harvest, we have abundant success.

IT’S SPRING! Take stock.  Nurture seedlings and grow.