Leadership and Main

Bettering Others and the World You Live In

The Land

The Land

The land is where I have learned much about life and leadership.  It has helped shape and mold me into the person that I am today.  It is a special place. 

The Land

In 1996, my grandparents bought nine and a half acres in Canton, Georgia.  The property is divided by a creek that runs through the middle.  From the front of the property to the creek, it is relatively flat.  Past the creek, it gets steep.  Right before you get to the creek there is an open meadow, perfect for gardening.

Paw Paw

I spent much of my teenage years gardening with my Paw Paw there.  As I went to college, built a career, and started a family, I wasn’t able to get up there as much.  Around 2010, he was diagnosed with cancer.  Through that process, it became a priority for me to get back up there and help him with the garden.  I am grateful for all the time I was able to spend with him there, but especially his last summer with us.

A few years ago, we got the garden up and going again.  It has been about ten years since he passed.  We were able to resurrect a space that meant so much to me and my family.  At times, I could feel his presence there. 

What has the land taught me?  Here are four lessons about life and leadership learned from a piece of property.

Have Vision

I described that perfect meadow for gardening earlier.  Well, it wasn’t always that way.  I will never forget Paw Paw taking us to the land shortly after they bought it.  That year, I would have been in the eighth grade. 

After we hiked through the woods, we came to this low-lying area that was significantly overgrown with underbrush.  I couldn’t see it that day, but he could.  He had a vision for what that ugly overgrown area could be…a beautiful garden. 

In leadership, one of our greatest responsibilities that we have is to lead with vision.  Vision is the ability to see further.  To lead people to a place and time they cannot see themselves.  Paw Paw saw further.       

Work Hard

We worked the land hard.  One of the initial challenges was drainage, there was a ditch that needed to be redirected to stop it from flooding so easily.  He paid me to dig a ditch, by hand.  I literally started my working career digging ditches!

In addition to the ditch, my brother and I carried big rocks that he tilled up and logs from trees that had to be removed.  We learned to work hard…really hard.      

Vision is only a dream without hard work.  Leaders can dream all we want, but it won’t get us to our vision.  Sometimes it takes some good old-fashioned hard work to get us to our destination.  Without hard work, an overgrown area of our life or leadership, remains just that.      

Learn From Experiences

Paw Paw taught me how to drive his 4×4 1982 Dodge Power Wagon there.  It was a four-speed manual transmission.

After a long day’s work, we were getting ready to leave.  I went to get in the passenger seat.  Before I did, he asked me if I wanted to drive it.  I hesitated at first, it was a long dirt driveway out to the main road and it was muddy that day.  He encouraged me to give it a try.

Towards the end of the driveway, you cross over a ditch.  There is a narrow dirt crossing where the water runs underneath through a pipe.  Well…I managed to drive us off into the ditch!

He never got mad at me.  He told me it was okay, got out of the truck, hooked up the winch, and got us out of there.  I have driven over that section of driveway hundreds of times since and will never forget that experience.  Nor, have I ended up in that ditch again!  I learned from that experience. 

One of the greatest challenges for leaders is to give our people the margin of error for failure.  The pressures of perfection can impair our ability to create those spaces and places for opportunity.  If the people we lead don’t end up in the ditch sometimes, they will never learn how NOT end up there.

Escape the Grind

The land was his escape.  He would drive up after work and spend weekend mornings there.  He enjoyed seeing the fruits of his labor in the garden, it refreshed him.  It gave him a sense of pride and peace.   

I can say the same.  The last few years, I have enjoyed getting up there and escaping the grind.  There are elements of solitude, relaxation, and just pure beauty.  I can escape the fog and see things a little more clearly.  Watching the process of a seed eventually producing fruit was extremely rewarding.  It brought me joy.

Leadership is a grind.  There is always work to be done.  If you are like me, your efforts to “catch up” always tend to fall short.  It is critical in the life of a leader to escape the grind.  Find your Happy Place or space.  If it’s not a place or space, maybe it’s a book, it’s music, it’s serving, or it’s a hobby…just get there.  It is necessary for survival sometimes.         


Here is a bonus lesson, free of charge…Create Memories.

What I haven’t told you yet, is that our family sold the property a week and a half ago.  This post was a necessary reflection that I needed.  Leading up to the sale of the land, I have spent time physically there and away from it in distant reflection of the memories that were created there. 

The gardening, riding four wheelers, driving tractors, digging ditches, driving into ditches, clearing underbrush, splitting firewood, building dams in the creek, shooting guns, carrying rocks, grilling out, relaxing in the hammock, watching the stars on a clear night, and being mesmerized by the glow of a campfire…all memories that I will never forget.  All created with the people that I value most. Experiences that came flooding over me the last time I drove out of the driveway and locked the gate for the final time a few weeks ago.

Have vision, learn from experiences, work hard, escape the grind, and create memories…lessons from the land.      

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