Forest Fire Direction: We Reap What We Sow

"To be a good farmer, one must first know the nature of the soil." – Xenophon, Greek philosopher and historian, pupil of Socrates, circa 430 – 354 BC

You have probably heard the old adage, "We reap what we sow"? Good or bad, we may never know the result of our efforts.

Every step of the process is critical and deserves attention. It will therefore be a series in several parts using the framework of the leadership environment and an analogy of agriculture. This is the second installment of our series (part 1).


Before the seeds can grow, a farmer prepares – plows, levels and fertilizes – the soil / field for production. The same goes for leaders who develop their people or themselves. They take the time to make sure that the environment / development opportunities match the person being developed and meet the needs of the organization.

This step can not be taken lightly. Leadership development is a vital and often expensive business. If we do not take the time to ensure that the environment / opportunities match the person and needs of our organization, the chances of successful growth are reduced.

Thought: Your people is your most important asset. Developing them is a MUST. Do not "cut corners".

Action: Take the time to prepare for leadership development. Look for growth opportunities and match each development opportunity with the person and the needs of the organization.

Plowing the field

Farmers plow the field to break the soil into small pieces, add air to the soil and uproot unwanted plants and rocks. Leaders have a duty to develop their people for the future. They partner with their collaborators to develop a plan that can be divided into achievable goals, essentially giving "air" to the person's development goals and removing barriers to success.


Just as a farmer levels a field in order to provide uniform irrigation and reduce erosion, leaders consider individual skill levels and developmental needs when assigning tasks and assigning jobs. approval of the training. They ensure that all people under their influence have the opportunity to grow and prosper. Preferential treatment and favoritism erode the leadership environment.


Farmers test the soil to determine if it is suitable for the desired outcome and choice of crop. If conditions are not conducive to production, farmers add soil supplements. The leaders do the same when they develop or develop their people. They determine the best environment / opportunity to achieve the desired outcome and provide the necessary complements for sustained growth.

Pam McDonald is a writer and publisher for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and a member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author. Neutral pronouns were used.