Autumn is coming. Colours are changing in the landscape and everyone seems to have a cold. Things are really slowing down here: whilst many of the farmers I’m interviewing on the Farm Like a Hero tour are still in mid-season, we’ll be wrapping up our season in a month’s time. In this video I’m sharing some more thoughts on the cost of success and on how to proceed from here.

Are you finding yourself in a transitory phase of life?

Join the conversation in the comments below. Thousands of people come here to learn, so please share if you have  knowledge or experience that might benefit others.

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  1. Marie Melnitzky-Ekhator

    Dear Richard, hard to make a concise comment, just this: you have no obligations to your mission anymore. You have totally succeeded.
    You are free.

    PS.: are you aware which separate part of your work you like best?
    Regards, Marie

  2. Greg SSmith

    Hi Richard, I feel for you because I have been through a similar situation when about your age. (I am 60 now.)

    What you have done is awesome and great, but it is time to take your life back for yourself in my view. If you do not this will become very toxic, and it need not be so.

    This is important to me because when we were about where you are in life now, the wheels fell off. With our small baby in hand my wife was diagnosed with Cancer and given a few months to live. We fell into a drawn out brutal battle to keep her alive to at least see her daughter reach school age, and finally succeeded in that (just.)

    My point is, it brings home what is important in life, and balance is totally the key.

    The destination is NEVER as important as the journey. We men do seem to fall into the trap of thinking everything will be great when we achieve our objective/s, but there will always be another.

    Over decades I have slowly realised that continuing to push yourself on something (like what you have done there) when there is an alternative is the biggest problem.

    So, consider this. Presently what you have built can only continue while you remain. Therefore, unless you take the next step your legacy is temporary. The next step is to make yourself obsolete, without having to abandon your achievements.

    How that is done is actually surprisingly easy once you realise it. Basically you progressively develop the ability to put all the irons you have in the fire under management. It is not actually important what you do. It is far more important what you make happen.

    I guess what I am saying is, there is a very finite limit to how much you can personally achieve, including in the inspirational sense to others. As you have come to realise, there is also a heavy personal costs to pay.

    However, it is unlimited how much you can achieve if you LET GO OF DOING IT ALL YOURSELF.

    I don’t know much about your business, but let me give a very basic example. Lets say we are talking about meat chicken production.

    You can only do so much until it becomes physically impossible, no matter how much labour you have. This is simply because decisions must be made by you. But what if you simply designed the system, and a system to duplicate the first system. All of a sudden the amount of meat chickens you could produce would be virtually unlimited, and could be adapted to anywhere in the world.

    You must build a system, fill it with procedures and try it out. Eventually you will be able to leave it to run free, and in the process achieve your own freedom.

    What people don’t seem to recognise is that freedom is actually the ability to immediately and freely to choose what you want to do because you have no obligations other than those you have chosen to take for yourself. Freedom is when you own you time without obligation to others.

    The glory of it is, when you begin to build things to be completely independent of you, the potential becomes unlimited, and your life together with your family will become unimpeachable.

    Just as a final point. The only consistently successful way to make endeavors able to be put under management is to remove the decision making element that binds in the process. There is only one thing that binds people to a business, and that is the authority to make decisions. Free yourself of this obligation and you have freed yourself.

    In other word, get someone to write out WHAT you do for a cycle (the system). Then they write out HOW you do it (the procedures). Finally, When you do it (triggers, schedules…) Contain this in the framework of WHY you are doing these things, and magically you have created a business/whatever that can be run ‘under management.

    • Jacek

      Brilliantly said, and very true. Create systems.

      There is a book written a few years back about the founders of a chain of bakeries, called if I am not mistaken, Great Harvest Bread. Their whole idea from the outset was to create systems and hire people that would allow them to go hiking for 2-3 months per year, so they grew a self-managing franchise system, that they eventually sold. I don’t recall the title of the book, but here is a link to a short article in Inc. Magazine:

      If someone is interested, you can try digging for the longer one, where they talk about the systems they used to prevent the business encroaching on their lives.

  3. Rat West

    You have helped many people get into farming, and the enjoyable lifestyles that can bring. But many of your former trainees or interns will have little capital, but could borrow to purchase land if they could prove viability. Would some of those people come to run the farm together, on a profit share, with you only as a part-time manager or consultant. Within two years, they could be successful in getting funding to buy you out there.
    This could respect your customers, allow your hard work to continue into the future by others and give those a chance to farm. It also gives you and your family much more time together and some good breathing space to decide your futures, and plot a definite exit route whatever else you choose to do.

  4. Jon

    Well done on noticing the need for change, I find this alone is most of the battle. My experience is that each piece is part of some broader plan that I am not entirely aware of and expect that some oft hat plan will only be seen from my death bed. Men as a rule try to button things down, create a plan, rigidly stick to the process etc etc. Already advice on how to springs to mind.

    It maybe your time on this ground is coming to an end, it maybe that some other transformation will come into existence, including the right people for the job. Often tricky to know who they are, they may already be in your orbit. I also believe that nothing is more important that YOU. Not in an egotistical manner, more in the fact that if you are right within yourself all else will follow. Nothing worse than a Martyr. So if YOU are right, then you have the resources to support others and clearly family then comes into play.

    Awesome to see a dad being with his son in an environment that he obviously loves.

    My hat off to you Richard, you have done more than many will ever do with so many facets of your businesses. I personally have taken some of your advice and used it on our small 5 acre block here in New Zealand and for putting this content out Thank You.

    Everything has a price to be paid and losing ones family or self for that is too high a price to pay.

    So I wish you both well in your deliberations. My partner and I sometimes just sit down and agree that each will talk for 10 or 15 minutes on whatever is on our minds with no interruptions from the other, no commenting on what is being said or expressed, and for the listener to observe what impact the other persons words are having on us. Then we swap over. It is very liberating process and so many different things have been shared. Often just being listened to is what I need.

    Blessings on the journey


  5. Kelsey

    These are such big pervasive problems for farmers! Thank you so much for your transparency and showing that even when you are pretty much at the peak of success these issues still exist. Really excited to see what you decide to do in order to find a different model thats works for you.

  6. Miriam Iwashige

    I wonder if you would find direction and clarity by tuning into the ancient Hebrew system of sabbath rest. This can be practiced on a weekly basis (one day in seven is for rest) and practiced over a period of years (one year of rest after six years of work). It sounds to me like desperation has sort of forced this process on you. I’m referring to the fact that you “burned out” after about six years. How might this have been different if, all along, you had been mindful of taking one day off each week, and all along, you had known that this phase would last for only six years? At the end of that time there would be rest and re-evaluation for the following six years of work. Although I have not seen models of a Sabbath year in others around me, I have adopted it for myself, both in my large home garden, my experience in market gardening, and in my job as a teacher. We raised our family on a small homestead in central USA (Kansas) and our children and grandchildren garden with us now, although they each have their own homesteads. All of us are very plugged into the life of the extended family and the community. It’s a separate consideration, but daily periods of quiet meditation and inspiration are important to me as well in staying balanced. I tune in very closely to the natural rhythms of the seasons, moon cycles, sunsets and sunrises, etc. These serve as a framework within which to organize personal rhythms. I am a Christian, so I experience these rhythms through this lens, but I believe the rhythms are profitable in any context. I do have great respect for what you have been able to accomplish, especially in being able to facilitate success for others, but it’s no mystery to me why it can’t be sustained indefinitely. You’re wise to re-evaluate, and I wish you every blessing in doing so.


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