I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership, workflow, and how the feeling of the efforts create ripple effects. Sometimes the hardest labor can be joyful and participatory in a way that builds good energy, and sometimes the easiest tasks can become painful drudgery. There’s an element of mental conditioning here, for the mind has great power to shape perspective.
We’ve been doing some of the heaviest labor of the year as we prepare the beds for planting. We follow the steps that take us from the lush, abundant cover crop through to a space that is ready to be seeded or receive a raft of transplants. Like a choreographed dance, we move through the rhythm with smiles on our faces.
Grandpa always said “let us be happy in our work”, and this mantra guides our course as we flow through the river of life. Laughing, joking, whistling, smiling; we strive to hold good energy supports us in shared effort and accomplishment. As a leader, there is great responsibility and deep joy in fostering this organizational culture.
I enjoy physical work and am blessed to use my body to earn a living tending and stewarding the land. It is important to me to share my skills and knowledge with others who are interested in learning the craft of intensive, small-scale farming and land-management. It is also important to always continue learning and not to calcify in my practices.
Farming without joy is purgatory, trapped in a cycle of drudgery. Farming with joy is a reflection and understanding of the “I Get To” principle. Because I’m excited about what I “Get to” do, that excitement replicates in others. When I am stressed or upset, that spark is missing or muted and I see the difference in the faces around me.
Bringing my best and highest self to work and life means that I carry joy in a way that offers it to others. This sharing becomes replicable and reflective as emotion and love are returned unto me. As an emotive creature, I want to love and be loved.
Looking back over the life of the farm, there are clear times when the spark of joy was missing and we struggled through the effort. These memories are cast in greyish-sepia tones, as though dulled by frustration. In contrast, the brightness and sparkle of the good times holds a comfort that reinforces life course and choice in interaction.
So much of communication happens through body language and facial expression that words are boats floating on deep water. When I feel joy it is obvious to everyone around me on a subconscious level, and this spark increases the level of interaction and opens channels for clear and productive communication.
As a leader and teacher, I learn to be a better communicator with the passing of the seasons. If my instructions yield results that are different than expected, it is time to revisit the instructions. Clarity in words and intention creates accurate reproduction of effort, a meshing of speaker and listener into shared creation.
It is my responsibility to communicate for understanding, using the right amount of detail. Too much information cannot be processed and will obscure the bones of the task. The additional information must come in time in order to foster understanding and sustainability of effort, for bones without flesh cannot survive.
Physical effort is the fulcrum of the farm, our bodies used to grow food and raise animals. Tools and machinery increase the results of this effort, as does knowledge and understanding. Communication is the tool by which the tasks are shared and others engage in successful practice. Learning and information are passed on as they are gained in a process of continuous improvement.
It is my job as a human to foster joy and offer knowledge, and to be open to receiving both. I must also recognize how little I know and always seek new information that will aid in decision making and effectiveness. Stagnation occurs when I am closed off and not receptive, but when I am reflexive in my actions and thinking, change for the better happens over time. As always, much love and great success to you on your journey!
Make sure to check out: happydayfarmscsa.com
Casey O'Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun+Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. Casey is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. Casey also serves on the board of Sun+Earth Certified. You can find his radio show podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud. You can also find out more about HappyDay Farms here: http://www.happydayfarmscsa.com, on Instagram @happydayfarms and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casey.oneill.395/ or https://www.facebook.com/happydayfarmscsa/