When I put Database technology down, I run a 20-acre farm with my family. I love it. It’s fun watching the kids learn from the experience. Learning my life lessons and illustrations from the chores and animals is fun.
A farm scare today made me think of you. There is a lesson for us all that I hope my animals never learn. One of our boys ran in shouting, “The cows! The cows! They are trying to get out! They are pushing on the gate!”. I ran out there to see it was a misunderstanding. The boys heard a noise, saw the position of the cows, and assumed the worst. All was well. (It almost turned into a “parent of young children” fear when I saw it was the bull and one of the cows (that means female) over in that corner together… ) But it reminded me of my greatest fear of raising farm animals in a suburban/rural town near busy roads. I think you and I can benefit from understanding my fear here. I’ll tell you my worries and help you with one condition: you can’t tell my animals this lesson. It is only for us.
You are free
That’s the lesson. Rather than bury the lede, that’s the lesson. You’re free. In many contexts and many ways – you are free. Now that I’ve spilled the beans, you’re free to stop reading and have the next few minutes back if you like. You’re free, after all.
The lesson I hope the animals never learn.
In short, They are free.
My fences are all psychological. Our cows are small for cows but big for fences. Our bull weighs about 1,250 pounds. While we spent a lot of money on our fences, the bull could leave in a few ways:
- He can walk through the electric fences. On a good day, the fence is about 8,000 volts. That sounds high, and it is, but it’s pulsating. I’ve touched it and will touch it again, I’m sure, and am alive with no (new) deficiencies (that I’m aware of). Animals can charge through it.
- He could knock down the woven wire fences if he charged them.
- He could push with his weight on the many gates to the outside
- He could step on the gate with his front legs and crush it to the ground.
The goats and sheep can jump over in some areas. They could run through the electric strands on some days. When their coats are full, the sheep could walk through the high-tensile strands and possibly not feel a zap. They all could leave.
Thankfully, most don’t. But it’s a fear. This sense that the animals could discover something fairly apparent to you by now. They could find that they are free.
It’s said that when captive elephants are young, their trainers tie them to big chains. Those chains won’t go anywhere when they move them. They spend their young years learning, “When I am tied up, I can kick all I want; I’m not going anywhere.” It’s also said that they don’t need big chains to hold them when they are older. A rope tied to a small post will do. They don’t know they are free.
I don’t want my animals to learn they are free. People who raise farm animals often suggest getting rid of an animal who knows they are free; It’s contagious.
The lesson I hope you are starting to learn.
I already told you above, so this isn’t a big reveal. In short, You are free.
I told you why our farm animals are really free. I told you about the holes in the system they aren’t aware of yet. Let me tell you some reasons they stay, though. When you read these, think of yourself and your current situation:
- Contentment – They have hay or grains. They have water. They get treats. Their humans love and care for them. They don’t know if this is all they need or want; it’s all they know, and it works.
- Self-awareness – They have “imposter syndrome” – they don’t know they can get out. They believe they are not free.
- Role Models – None of the other animals model escapist tendencies. Well, not in the ones we have today.
- Laziness – Let’s face it, they walk to the fence, see it, give up, and return to the easy stuff.
It must look weird to those animals when a deer jumps over the fence and runs around in the field before jumping out. Thankfully, it’s not frequent enough to model the behavior. I sometimes wonder, if the animals possessed rationality, would they think those deer to be strange and problematic fools?
This is about you, though. You are free. Right now. You are free. I mostly speak of career, growth, learning, and development with this post. And there are many dimensions of the word “free”; sometime, over coffee, I can discuss a few with you.
For now. Think of your career and your day job, and your advancement. Maybe you think your gender is keeping you down because that’s the fence that’s been put around you by society or your team. Perhaps you think, “I’ll never be able to speak at a conference because of, ” and then list a bunch of barriers like the gate being there, or the hay being tastiest where you are, or not being expert enough in availability groups to dare speak at a local user group about the topic.
Knock it off. I’m not giving you some “new age” power of positive thinking self-help thing here, but… Knock it off. There are valid limitations. I can’t be a star .net developer tomorrow or in 3 months. However, if I wanted to join the dark side, become a developer, and focus on it for a few years, I could do a decent job and become better than average. I’m not talented or extra bright; I know that consistent effort leads to progress and that I have systems for learning and using technology. I trust you could do it also. But Knock it off. Stop giving these bad excuses space to germinate. Stop watching the other fence dwellers for your cues.
Again – being a fence dweller isn’t bad. What I mean is – don’t limit yourself. Don’t limit your potential because of fake circumstances. Work harder, see beyond the fence, and work towards your outcomes. Will you always succeed? Nope. So knock that “But what if I fail?!!” barrier out of your way quickly; you will sometimes fail. I’ve been laid off a few times. I dropped out of High school. I had a lengthy business partnership that fizzled and died at the end; I’ve sat there looking at the books before wondering, “Hmm. is it time to go find that good hay inside a safer fence?” I’ve realized that I didn’t have a connection with a client and had to move on from the relationship; I’ve messed up farming in more ways than I can count. Don’t even talk about my failures on the journey!
You’ll have failures, too. Safety, food, water, and generally kind shepherds are inside the fence. Outside are cars, predator animals, weather patterns, and pesky humans. You can stay inside that fence, and that’s a great option – whatever your wall is. But know, you are free.