Scott Rosberg explains how the metaphor of planting seeds and harvesting crops relates to coaching and teaching our youth. He has also added a short video touching on some of the key points in the post. Enjoy!
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
It’s March, and while it is still winter in many parts of the United States, for several areas of the country this is the month when farmers and gardeners begin planting their crops. It is a wet, rainy month for much of the country, as the transition from winter to spring begins, so it is fitting that the focus word for the month of March be “plant”.
Consequently, “plant” is also a great word for those of us in the education world to consider. We are all planters. We are all farmers. But in our world of education, be it classroom teachers or sports coaches (Hey Coach, Be A Teacher!), we are farming and cultivating young people. Our crop is filled with all kinds of diversity of thought, feeling, emotion, and ability. It is up to us as the farmers of young people to make sure we are planting the right seeds to help them grow fruitfully, plentifully, and abundantly.
But what exactly are the seeds we should be planting? What exactly is the crop we are trying to yield when it comes to the young people we teach, coach, and lead? When exactly will we see the “fruits of our labors”?
The seeds we sow in our young people will be varied, but more than anything, they will consist of our words. Every time you speak to one of your students/athletes, you are planting seeds. Just like seeds for flowers or vegetables, you never know which ones will take, begin to sprout, and eventually grow. Some manifest themselves almost immediately. Others take more time to grow.
Because of this, it is critical that we be careful with the choice of our words. Since we never know which of our words our kids are latching onto, we must assume that they are latching onto all of them. Of course, we know that they aren’t grabbing each of them as words of wisdom and guidance. But WE must treat all of them as such, for all of them have the potential to be just that in their minds.
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Oftentimes, we have a message in mind that we are trying to get across to our listeners. In our minds, we have an statement that we know is powerful, meaningful, and life-changing. However, our kids may not recognize the importance of that statement, or feel it in the same impactful way that we do. They may not hear it the way we intended it or even hear it at all. Oftentimes, our “profound words” fall on deaf ears.
At the same time, we may have “throw away” lines that we speak, words that in our minds mean nothing of consequence. But while you may consider them as unimportant, some young person may be taking that statement, mulling it over, and deciding if it is a signpost for life, something to guide her or him down a certain path. You never know when that is happening with the words you are speaking. Your inconsequential, meaningless, nothing statement may be guiding a young person’s future without you ever intending or considering it.
So be careful with the words you speak. They are planting seeds in your young people’s hearts and minds. The seeds you plant today become the crops of young people tomorrow.
Farmers often talk about the yield they get from their crops. After springtime planting, they are hoping for a good summer that eventually leads to a bountiful yield of crops which they harvest and sell to support their family. What about us as teachers and coaches? What is our yield?
Our yield is the most important crop of all – the continuing development and growth of the young people we lead. While it starts with planting the seeds of our words, we must then water and nourish those seeds with even more words and actions that move them along the right path.
The words we choose to use as we continue to teach our young people are critical components of helping them grow. However, this is where our actions also step in and affect the “yield” of the crop. While we may be saying all the right things, if we are not acting in accordance with our words or not acting with care, respect, and maturity, the seeds of our words will not grow as they should. We send mixed signals when our actions do not follow our words.
We must be living examples through our actions of the words we speak. Young people will hear our words, but they will listen and then believe in our actions? Speak clearly as you are sowing the seeds for your kids. Act properly and definitively as you nourish those seeds.
Different crops are harvested at different times. Farmers have it down to an exact science as to when they will harvest each crop. However, when it comes to our young people’s growth, there is no definitive harvest time. In fact, some would say there is no harvest time. Only planting and feeding times.
Whichever line of thinking you follow, there is one key point – our work in teaching, coaching, leading, and raising our young people is never done. We are always nurturing the various seeds that we have planted. Some believe the harvest is when they are done with our classes, our teams, or our schools. That may be when our direct nurturing is done. But if you consider all that has been said above, our words and actions will continue to nourish our young people long after we are with them physically.
Consider the teachings that you had as a young person. Think about the words and actions of your parents, family members, teachers, coaches, mentors and other adults who impacted you. How many of you still hear their words guiding you through life? How many of you still see the example they set for you?
The harvest time for our young people is never-ending, just as the planting time is never-ending. We are constantly planting seeds throughout people’s lives, and we are constantly nourishing those seeds. As a result, they are constantly harvesting themselves based upon what we have planted and how we have nourished. It is critical that we are mindful of this, and recognize that the farming of life never ends.
So plant the best seeds you can in the young people you lead. Nourish those seeds daily with care and love. By remembering this simple metaphor of planting and nourishing the young people in your life, you will feed the world with the greatest, most abundant crop we can produce – positive, productive members of the human world!
“With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
For more by Scott Rosberg, check out his website: https://www.greatresourcesforcoaches.com
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Latest posts by Scott Rosberg (see all)
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- Coach’s Role in Building Confidence: Part 1 – Preparation and Success - August 15, 2018