Sunday, March 26, 2017

Farmer Able by Art Barter

Storytelling is an art and has been the engine behind knowledge being passed down for thousands of years. Stories exist to entertain, educate, impress, and engage. A gratifying story is like a great joke, but not everyone can tell a funny joke or graciously bring a story alive so that we find meaning or grasp new lessons. If you love an engaging story, then pick up a copy of Farmer Able by Art Barter.  This book will engulf you and take you on a journey to discover the heart of servant leadership show why the world is not all about you.

Farmer Able is an entertaining and humorous story that takes place on Farmer Able’s farm. It’s a fun book to real with a series of short chapters each with its lesson. Some examples include;

  • A trust breakdown causes a rust buildup; everything moves slower and costs more.
  • Caring for others: weakness or strength?
  • Sometimes a self-made man can become self-absorbed.
  • The attitude and behaviors you lead with will follow.
  • Truly caring allows you to carry 50 times your weight.

Farmer Able’s animals come alive. We hear them chattering with each other, bickering about Farmer Able, and acting snarky with the animals that they loath. The story begins with lazy pigs and Farmer Able's grumbling that the pigs are running the farm. Starting with Clarice the cow thinking "it's all about Able” the other animals pick up on this and begin to get jealous and are resentful about working hard or producing milk, eggs, or caring out their purpose. Soon we see nothing but problems.

Farmer Able is obsessed about profits and production. When he doesn't see results, he starts trying to push for results. He rations food to save money, he locks up the chickens in the dark to increase egg production, and he angers the cows and horses. No one wants to work because they don't feel valued or appreciated. Farmer Able adopts an authoritative mindset and frets about everything. His relationships suffer all over the farm. The animals don't trust him; his assistants don’t understand him, and his relationship with his family goes south. The farm is upside down.

One night, Farmer Able begins receiving insights from the oddest place, the wind. We start to see Farmer Able hear valuable whispered phrases throughout chapters that reach down and bring change up from inside. The first words are "It's not about you." Our farmer's life and actions change as he hears "believe what you believe," "Trust is a must," and "ours is yours." 

Farmer Able transforms before our eyes. He shocks the animals by showing more care by cleaning their area, giving them freedom, and interacting with them. They slowly trust him again. Able no longer frets over profits and begins to do the right thing for others. He makes wise management changes with his people and chooses a farm leader with empathy who puts others first. Most importantly, Farmer Able places his family first and heals his relationships.

Farmer Able teaches us critical lessons without us initially realizing it. I found myself on the farm engaging with the characters gripped with intent interest. As the chapters grew with new messages, I found myself rich with new ideas.

The pigs were never actually running the farm and causing chaos. Farmer Able's mindset and authoritative behaviors were the culprits. His thoughts justified his actions, and the farm suffered from every renewed push. Able's focus on production was dysfunctional and impacting progress. Sound familiar? Our farmer's mindset is like so many leaders today that runs organizations. Authoritative leaders think that pushing and demanding more brings results. Sadly, these actions have adverse effects.

By the end of the story, Farmer Able's enlightened servant leadership style is what brings change. The whispers of the wind teased him into looking deep inside him and bring internal change that changed those around him and ultimately saves the farm. Our journey ends with learning the same valuable lessons that our farmer does. Be a servant leader and put others first. Lead from the inside out for impact. Change inside of you will have a dramatic effect on those around you.

I loved Farmer Able by Art Barter, and it's one of my new favorites. This book is a key resource to use with your teams or those that welcome lessons to bring out the best in others. It’s a heartfelt story about leading with purpose while creating change with an ethical approach that engages, empowers, and ultimately serves others, not you.

Fortunately, the lessons of Farmer Able don’t stop with Art Barter’s fable. Art just released  The Servant Leadership Journal an 18 Week Journal to Transform You and Your Organization. This journal guides us on a journey to strengthen and develop our servant leadership skills. Art shares nine key behaviors that we all need in order to be effective leaders. This book is engaging and interactive through journaling every day. Art’s process will help develop new leadership behaviors and habits through 4 steps:

  1. Educate yourself about each behavior
  2. Understand where you are at with each behavior
  3. Apply what you learn and ask how you use new learning’s
  4. Reflect by writing down details or results of this leadership journey

I am just digging into Art's journal, and I feel so challenged. I look forward to new learnings and growth that I can apply to how I interact and empower others. More to come after my 18-week journey!

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