Cowboy or Farmer?

Cowboy or Farmer?

We as a movement have DNA, as with any movement, and a part of that DNA is our differences. I love them, and I love when it works for the best, but sometimes it works against us as well, and then I get sad.

I think we have three kinds of leaders:

I call the first one ‘cowboy’. They ride alone, or in a small groups, not in a team, but in a group. They survive, they are independent and they hate boundaries and any kind of structure.
The wild west or east fits them well, as they ride into the land, they don’t settle, always on the road to the next field. Cowboys don’t mind titles, they are ok with posters on the wall saying “Wanted!”. They often carry many titles and do not necessarily care if they fulfill the role or not, as long as they have their freedom they stay on duty.

But what comes after the Cowboy, after the lonely riders that have seen the land?

Then comes the Farmers, and builders, those that open shops and schools, but for the simplicity let’s call them farmers. They plow the land, they clean the forest, and they build houses and barns. They look at the land, find out what is the best place to build the house, or to have the garden, they quote Martin Luther:

Even if I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree.

They make roads, not only for themselves, but for generations to come. They put fences up where they are needed and before they know it the infrastructure is in place. They are the first generation of farmers, not afraid for structures and frames. No, as a matter of fact they love it.

Where I am from the farm stays in the family, “from father to son”, the old people used to say.
So the second generation of farmers are the third kind of leader. They develop the farm even more: more efficient, better equipment, bigger roads, larger barns. They take what the “fathers” have built and innovate and shape it.

In any movement we need all three of them, but often we can run into conflict between them. The farmers gets upset about the cowboys since they don’t build, and they don’t make roads because they have their own paths. The farmer wants roads so his crops are not being destroyed or trampled down by the cowboys.

The cowboy do not like the fences and the farmers’ boundaries. They like the blue sky and will not settle. Conflict is arising. Are we building and developing the land?

If your organization or movement only has cowboys as leaders, there will not be many roads for people to follow, there will not be good and sustainable structures, only freedom for the ego.

Or if your people are only farmers, new land is never taken, you will not make room for those that need independence. You focus on community and building, maybe more than knowing everyone and being everywhere.

Farmers concern themselves with the next generation. Do those following afterwards need to work harder or will they be able to harvest more from what has been sown?

We can go on and on from farmer to cowboy, but what are you? And your leadership team?
Make sure to give room, especially to the farmers, those that want to build for the generations to come.
Until next time….plow the land…

Rune Sæther

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