7 Things You Learn When You Step in Crap
Cows, unlike people, aren’t shy about doing their ‘business’ in broad daylight. I saw a lot of cow manure when I was growing up. I shoveled a lot too. Occasionally, I stepped in some.
Cow pies make grass green.
Your greatest contribution grows in crap.
The childish belief that meaningful contribution is easy prevents grass from growing. Everyone who makes a difference – for others – deals with crap. Every parent, manager, entrepreneur, teacher, or social worker knows what I mean.
Ease is the enemy of meaningful contribution. But if you work through the crap, you learn how to make a difference in the world.
People who tiptoe around difficulty matter less than people who keep going after they step in it.
7 things you learn when you step in crap:
- You learn you still have things to learn when you step in cow pucky.
- You learn patience and kindness when you work through your own stink.
- You learn humility when you stand there with crap on your shoes.
- You learn to seek wisdom and ask for help when you’re up to your neck in cow pies.
- You see yourself best when you respond to the crap in your life.
- You contribute to others when you work through your own mess.
- You learn that the problems you repeatedly face are YOUR issues when you keep stepping in the same cowplop.
Sometimes the crap you step in is your own. (#7 above.)
What if the turbulence you feel is about you, not someone else? A young leader recently told me that the reason he didn’t delegate was he didn’t trust. It’s healthy to realize we’re stepping in our own crap.
Blamers think the stink in their life belongs to someone else.
What has difficulty taught you?
What’s a creative word for cow manure?
Image source: Martin Abegglen, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
What has difficulty taught you? if we learn to believe in ourselves we can do more than we ever realized. The tasks that are in front of us become water over the dam as we squirm our way through life’s challenges. Watching others you can learn a lot, helping others you can learn more. Be open to advice often times they have been through the “Flop” already, but then you miss the excitement of the “warm Flop” through your toes….LOL
What’s a creative word for cow manure? Bovine spew
You went over the top today, Tim. But, I’m the one who started it so I can’t complain. “… helping others you can learn more.” I’m putting that one in the bank.
Bovine spew! 🙂
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, because to the farmer (and I spent many wonderful years manually slogging on an old school dairy farm). I still love the sweet smell of spreading manure on the fields. But when you see that it is useful and much the same at work, not every job or task is glorious, but there is hardwork and do we see what the end result and product is, do we see the big picture, or just the fertilizer that is on our hands and shoes. I saw this often with the other teens, they hated doing the mucking because of the smell, but they only saw the short term and immediate and didn’t see the long term big picture aspect. I know I’m biased but working on that farm was one of the best things I ever did and my boss there was probably one of the most formative individuals outside of my parents at that time in my life.
Thanks James. I had no idea that you had some farm between your toes. Good for you.
The big picture does help us when we’re lost in the weeds… or lost in whatever. So glad you brought that up. It’s important for anyone who is stepping in it.
-The symptom is not the real problem. Ask the 5 whys to get to the real problem.
-Not all problems are of equal importance. Focus on your high priority problems.
-Some people try to give you their problems. Ask-who own this problem?
-How you frame the problem is important. Problem or opportunity!
-If it’s your problem, own it. Don’t blame others.
A creative word for cow manure? I need help on that one. (Another important aspect of problem solving is knowing when to ask for help.)
Thanks Paul. I’m a little surprised to see you use the term “problem.” 🙂
Love your insights. One of my favorites is, some people try to give you their problem. Here is the challenge of being a compassionate, helpful leader. If you aren’t careful you end up doing other people’s work for them. In reality, that’s not compassion. But it feels like it in the short-term.
I love this, and not just because I spent a lot of time growing on my grandfather’s farm. “Your greatest contribution grows in crap”. I agree, though I often have to remind myself (and sometimes others) of that. My employer doesn’t keep me around to solve easy things. Thank you for your posts!
Thanks John. So glad to hear that you have some farm in your blood. It’s a great reminder… if it was easy, someone else would do it.
Ha! Love this one! So true. Crap keeps you looking up and ahead which lets you run faster through the field. Stepping in crap allows you to warn others where the cowplops are. Aren’t we obligated as leaders to share that with our people (although sometimes you just need to let stubborn folks step in it so they can learn!).
Thanks Joshua. What a great insight. Share your mistakes so others can avoid them. Or so others can make new ones. 🙂
And yes, some people only learn from their own experience. But wise people learn from other people’s experience.
8. You learn how to wash off the “crap”, clean the appendage or clothing, make sure the smell is gone, and 9. You move on more knowledgeable with a smile.
Thanks Roger… “with a smile.” Now that speaks to me. We can get down in the mouth over this stuff.
People tip toe around it because it stinks !! It stinks because you avoid it. The reality is the more you’re around it the less it stinks.
How about Biologically processed vegetation? Smells better already!
LOL … love your alternative Roger. Too funny. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a point of concern that we get used to the stink?? Perhaps a little of both.
We always called them “meadow muffins”
Love the gentility of meadow muffin! thanks Eric
I would add that shovelling manure (horse in my case), is therapeutic. We like to think of it as digested hay…. AND it does not smell IMO
Thanks Helen. It’s so true. Work that takes physical effort is good for us. Mowing grass. Shoveling snow. …
Great article! Humorous but so true. We grow the most through our challenging, crappy times- we just need to reflect on what we’ve learned.
Thanks Janice. It’s the reflection that makes the difference.
My life verse is Proverbs 14:4. If you are going to accomplish anything you will have to deal with crap. Andy Perkins Board Chair BESTWA, Inc.
Fascinating proverb, Andy. Thanks
What has stepping in cow poo taught me? Two things.
1. Try to guide others to avoid the piles if at all possible.
2. Realize there are those who should be allowed to wander around as they choose.
Thanks Hot. #2 makes me think. (I notice the use of #2 in this context.) They should be allowed to wander because they understand the opportunities and dangers in the pasture? They should be allowed to wander because you tried to warn them and they aren’t listening?
Actually both could apply. Some remember lessons better after stepping in it. Others refuse to acknowledge the piles being there, so let them wander.
This is a very interesting way of discussing growing as a leader but it is also very true for a lot of people. Some leaders do not see that they are the cause of the stink in their lives. Taking advantage of the opportunities to learn from the stink can only improve a leader in their interactions with those around them.
Thanks Adam. My experience indicates that we smell the stink of others long before we smell our own.
Your post reminds of things my grandfather, an old-time Methodist preacher, used to say. One of his best was “its the rocks in the brook that make it sing”. We need difficult times (crap) to stimulate growth, improve facets of life & gain wisdom (the harvest). Then we can share what we’ve learned so other folks can either avoid the same “cow pie” or if they step in it, be better prepared to gain their own harvest of wisdom.
This is interesting and enlightening as always, thank you for your posts! I got a lot out of it, and am curious about the part where “people who tiptoe around difficulty matter less…” Do people really matter less if they avoid difficulty? I’m not sure anyone matters less because they tiptoe around difficulty. I would wholeheartedly support the notion though, that people master less if they tiptoe around difficulty.
I also loved your anecdote about the young leader, it was an epiphany for me. I’m going to practice delegating more. 🙂
Difficulty has taught me that I may need to make a decision as to what’s really important (the thing that’s difficult or letting go).
I grew up in pre-EPA Houston, TX. Now I live in Wisconsin. I’ll take the smell of Dairy Air over an east wind in Houston any time. It’s a good honest smell, and it’s probably not carcinogenic. At least it’s not pig.
Thanks Robert. No offense to pigs, but their stink is the worst.