So back to my teen years, and now I was “old enough” to be some help on the farm in Lubbock. Archie – everyone called my Grandfather that – had 200+ acres about 10 miles south of town, and I would spend 2 to 4 weeks of every summer out in the High Plains. I would try to NOT be there during irrigation season, but invariably it would turn out to be when I was there. While the soil there was fantastic, the amount of water was not, so we would have to pump it up from 300 feet down, and put it down the furrows to keep the cotton growing. And once you started it, you had to keep executing 24/7 for about a month… including hauling pipe with my Grandmother…
… who was in her late 70’s then… and could very Efficiently haul and lift WAY more pipe than I could. The daily regimen was to rise at 6 or earlier, drive to the farm, go out and “change the water”. That meant loading up the 1948 Ford pickup with no doors, but it had a pipe rack on the passenger side with 20 pieces of 20-foot pipe – luckily made out of aluminum. We would drive out to the 10 different pumps that each covered 20 acres. We would walk out in “muck boots” to where the gates were, slide them out, and slide it over 40 feet – 2 lengths of pipe. Repeat, 9 more times.
Depending on the day, Grandmother – a formal name she required of us – would either come with me, or stay back and cook us a full breakfast… to be served about 9:30 am. And to be Efficient, you would then get on the Massey Ferguson Tractor and head out to plow, or whatever for most of the day… to return to change the water again around 6, finish about 9:30 pm as the sun was just setting, drive back to town, have dinner about 10, fall into bed. Repeat for 30 to 45 days… it was Efficient… and another E-word – Exhausting.
There have been a total of over 70 different musicians who have been a part of “the Wheel” as members of the band talk about it. In doing my research this week, I ran across this particular YouTube video that is a show celebrating their 25th Anniversary – which itself was over 25 years ago. For those interested in a full understanding of the band, I would recommend you watch the whole thing. Ray introduces each member of the band, and highlights the growth of the band as they execute their hits.
The stage is full of nearly 70 people 😉 Pay particular attention to the piano players, who will start a song, and then you’ll notice a new one sit down next to them, and pick up the part and keep on playing, with a 3rd who does the same thing. You will see similar things with the other players – the fiddlers, the pedal steel, and the guitar players. Cameo’s are there from other Austin-based talent, and you can tell most of all, they are all having tremendous fun.
There are so many memories of that era, but one thing that really made an impression on me was… THIS was work. And… my Grandmother would regularly do more work than I did, AND cook amazing meals… in her late 70’s. Here I was at my prime-ish health… and I couldn’t keep up with her. And looking back I am pretty sure that it would have been much more Efficient for them to execute all of this – without me. And yet, they helped create a place for me to feel like I was really contributing.
What is your own definition of “work” – and how do you execute the concept of “Efficient”? As I think back on memories of this season, a couple of things stand out. First of all, I realized that people had created openings for me to make me feel like I was actually contributing… whether I was or not. Dan Pink talks about this – you have to feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself.
Second, work fills your time in a way that either pays you back… or not. While I enjoyed the time on the farm, what I noticed was out on the Tractor alone was not nearly as “fun” as changing out the pipe. I never really thought it was that Efficient, but the discussion with my grandparents on different approaches was an early clue that the people side of work is what I would thrive on.
As you think about making your own execution more Efficient in the New Year, what do you notice is easy and fulfilling compared to what gets move to “tomorrow’s” list consistently? I often suggest people simply review their calendar for the last 2 weeks and circle times they felt most engaged and but squares on those they weren’t. Like the water flowing down the furrows, your career is going somewhere…and as great their music is, you don’t want your plan to be … Asleep at the Wheel.