#311: Why the Best Path to Success Is Often Indirect

Will Harris is the fourth-generation owner of White Oak Pastures—a family-owned farm in South Georgia that raises and butchers animals raised in a regenerative manner using humane animal management practices.

This 3,200-acre farm is located in one of the poorest counties in the U.S., and yet Mr. Harris has been one of the biggest innovators in the country when it comes to regenerative agriculture and operating a vertically integrated, zero-waste farm.

So much so that people come from all over the world to Bluffton Georgia to learn what the Harris family is doing and how they do it. It’s quite a remarkable, beautiful place. My family and I have been buying food from White Oak Pastures for about 15 years and have visited the farm a number of times.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I was listening to a podcast interview with Will Harris on the Joe Rogan podcast. I was fascinated to learn more about what they’re doing and WHY they do it. And then he said something that was so wise, I wanted to share it with you.

He said something to the effect of, “There are a lot of young people who are heavily involved in the regenerative farming movement. And most of them are very unhappy.”

The podcast host was surprised by this statement, so he asked Mr. Harris why that was the case. And he responded (and I’m paraphrasing here) … “Most of these young people wake up every day trying to change the world. And because of that, they’re constantly disappointed by the progress they’re making. So they get frustrated and burn out. I wake up every morning trying to save White Oak Pastures. That’s why I’m happy and optimistic.”

I found this idea to be incredibly wise and profound. Too many of us (I know I’ve been super guilty of this) try way too hard to change and improve things that are, frankly, outside our control. When we fail, we try harder. But that doesn’t work, so we get even more disappointed. And so the cycle goes … all the way to burnout.

Mr. Harris knows that if he wakes up every morning 100% committed to making his farm the best it can be … and ensuring that his 180 employees are happy and taken care of … he will produce better food and continue to improve the quality of his land.

That alone will have a ripple effect that includes a cleaner environment, healthier topsoil, a stronger economy in his part of the state, happier families, healthier people, and an example others can follow and travel down to Bluffton, Georgia, to learn about and apply to their own farms.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t fight for a cause you truly believe in. And I’m not saying you should give up hope for things outside your control.

Quite the opposite! I’m suggesting that very often, the way to victory is indirect. The best path is not often straight. It’s oblique.

And achieving success is more about being much more strategic than about applying brute force. It’s about playing chess, not checkers.

Or to put it more simply, it’s about working smarter, not harder.



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