“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”
– Ecclesiastes 11:6
Few, if any, of the farmers around the farming and ranching community where I grew up in northwest Texas depended on one single crop for their livelihood. Most were engaged in at least three or more types of farming and livestock production, cotton, wheat, and cattle being the most prevalent. Some did, however, venture into raising such crops as corn, maize, peanuts, and soy beans, and livestock such as poultry, hogs, sheep and goats. The point was to diversify, as in any given year “you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether [all] will do equally well” – which rarely occurred.
The wisdom of our agrarian fore-fathers (few of us being engaged in agriculture today) continues to serve us well. For instance, those of us who have the good fortune of owning investment portfolios and who follow the advice of prudent investment professionals, are likely to be diversified by having the stocks and bonds we own allocated across a wide spectrum of companies and industries. And even at that, if your portfolio is like mine the returns we’ve experienced these past several months can only be described as lackluster. Yet during that same time period the value of my home has escalated dramatically. Again, “for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether [all] will do equally well” – which rarely occurs.
Farming and investing are but metaphors describing the broader scope of our lives, where except for the word diversification we tend to substitute the term “life balance”. Our lives are inherently multifaceted; for who among us does not have to contend with such issues as family and other relationships, finances, health, food and shelter – at least at some level. The challenge then becomes, how to balance it all – one of the most common concerns we executive coaches hear from our clients. It requires, of course, giving attention to all facets of our lives; for which the wisdom of Solomon serves us well. “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”