When we are very young, our parents and our teachers teach us to share. Increasingly, modern social sciences tell us that humans are, by and large, naturally inclined to be cooperative and collaborative, so the nudges given to us as preschoolers have fertile ground to work with. Our parents and teachers also encourage us to be independent and take initiatives. I took this to heart. My parents tell me that one of my very first utterances as a two-year old was “sef do!” — I want to do it myself. No tales exist of any precocious sharing capacity, so perhaps this story is a case of “never too old to learn”.
This farming project is mine, I mean, I am the one who is doing it. But it is also going to take place in the house and in the yard that I share with Mark, and his income is going to pay for the running costs – for a few years at least. So maybe I was feeling a bit defensive.
In any case, what happened is that I would talk about plans — “we’ll put a row of fruit trees here, and a pond there, and chickens over in that place” — and Mark would offer some suggestions or ask questions, like “Do those trees grow here?” or “Where will we put snow piles?” and then I would get mad and tell him not to micro-manage MY Project.
Instead of getting mad back, Mark said, “Yeah, it’s your project, but I’d like to be a little part of it. Can we find a role for me?” This led us to identify what expertise Mark has that compliments mine. Mark has a lot of experience coaching colleagues and organizations – helping them define project goals, tasks, and challenges; and figuring out a process to get where they want to go. We decided to use this in the farming project. On a couple of walks and evenings by the fire we used his frameworks for planning. This led us to develop a very useful Project Goals document, and a Resource Need document (more about those next). But the best part of it is that instead of doing it myself, by sharing I have found my very first farm partner. And I like it!