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Life is Like a Manure Spreader

February 20, 2013
Life can be like a manure spreader.

Life can be like a manure spreader.

Not in the way you think, but in the hookup process. When I shovel enough horse presents to fill up the device, I get to the point where I need to connect it to one of our farm vehicles and go a-spreadin’.

My wife complained at one point that I was unhooking the spreader and resting the tongue on the ground. When it got full she had trouble lifting it up and getting it on the hitch. I understood that and since I didn’t want to be the permanent manure-speader-hooker-upper, we found a block to rest it on so that the hookup was easier. However you still want to jockey the ATV or tractor close enough that you can easily get one to meet the other and minimize the lifting.

As I was performing this process one morning, it got me thinking about work and some of the conflicts I’ve seen with other people. To be fair, I’ve had a few conflicts at one of my companies and was struggling to budge from my position. I try to work with people, but I’ll admit I can be a bit stubborn and pig-headed at times, especially when I think I’m right.

But I think you must bring things together to be effective. Even the most adamant leaders, while they mostly get their way, they have to find a way to get the other side to bridge the gaps between them. Unless people can find a way to bridge those gaps, I really think that any enterprise is doomed to much less success than they might otherwise have. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a billion dollar company or a development team of 2, you need to find ways to work together.

That means compromise, and that means that you have to make an effort to find some common ground, to really examine your position and see if there is a way you can make changes that are acceptable to the other side.

I see my kids sometimes unable to do this, neither side willing to budge or consider any position other than their own. I’m amazed at how often this also occurs in business as well. There is always a way to work together and modify our position or argument. Often it comes down to just communicating with the other side. You might be amazed at how often you find out that that thing each of you cares about the most is not only different for each of you, but it’s something the other side doesn’t even worry about.

The next time you find yourself locked in a battle at work, think about me out there jockeying the manure spreader. Even if you can’t find a way to work together, you’ll probably end up smiling.

Steve Jones

If you want to see the process, check out the video podcast.


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