The Story of the Taoist Farmer

The Story of the Taoist Farmer

Christian Business | Taoist FarmerOne of the challenges of entrepreneurship is that nothing is ever the same. Employees come and go. Markets change. Ideas evolve. You don’t know what you don’t know, and the only thing you do know is that you have no idea what’s going to happen next. Being a good entrepreneur or leader has everything to do with your ability to pivot – to drive your organization through change without losing your identity or value proposition.

One of my mentors does this better than anyone I know. He has successfully navigated multiple companies through wave after wave of change. As markets evolved, laws changed, and customer preferences shifted, he was able to maintain a steady course and still find success. In fact I would say the key to his success is this very ability to simply stay focused on the prize and adapt without changing.

The key here is to adapt without changing. As a leader you must be able to adapt to every single scenario possible without changing who you are or what you do. Pivoting does not mean chasing the wind and every shiny opportunity or threat that emerges. Instead it means doing what you do best and finding ways that it fits with an ever changing environment. When you pivot in basketball, one foot always stays planted in the same spot. Meanwhile the rest of the body twists and turns, looking for the next opportunity to advance the basketball – but it never leaves its plant foot.

Recently I stumbled upon the Story of the Taoist Farmer, which reminded me of this important characteristic:

A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.

All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses. The man and his son corralled all 21 horses.

All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

Life is going to change. Business is going to be confusing and hard. But stand your ground, do what you do best, and remember that if Christ is your foundation you will pivot with the good and bad and still succeed.

Photo Credit: Loozrboy via Flickr (Creative Commons License)