The Law of the Farm and the Building Blocks of Success

Two concepts combined give us a truly powerful formula for success.

Steven Covey has a well-known parable called “The Law of the Farm” in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  It speaks to the fact that in agriculture it is readily evident that natural laws and principles govern the effort and determine the harvest. 

You cannot slack off all day during the planting season and expect a great harvest at summer’s end.  And you cannot get to 20 unbroken pullups without first getting to 1 then 2 then 3, and so on.  Nor will you be ready or a marathon unless you first run 1 mile, then 2, etc.

You very likely WILL NOT get rich overnight – no matter how many lottery tickets you buy or how many internet marketers you give your money to.  But you will get rich if you save every week, month, and year; invest in yourself and in the market; and spend less than you earn.


Earl Nightengale viewed the day as the basic building block with which to implement the Law of the Farm.  The greatest successes come from a slow, deliberate, and focused accumulation of successful days that contain a consistent, high-quality effort over time. Success is built upon the most basic block of time – the day.

Even Jesus, to borrow a religious example, stated: “as we sow, so shall we reap.”

My favorite example of a violation of these two laws – as well as a violation of a third, more fundamental law – is the example of students cramming for exams in college.  Not only were they shirking the responsibility of consistent, daily, high-quality efforts and expecting to reap a reward at the end (a good grade), they were also focused on an effect (the grade) rather than the cause (consistent studying).  This is a reversal of cause and effect that flies in the face of the law of causality. But causality is a relentless law that operates not just in a physical system – but in social systems as well.

If you want to be successful, beware of how easy, and how dangerous, is the tendency to reverse cause and effect.  Don’t chase money, chase success and the money will chase you.  Don’t pay money for a course on “higher status” which gives you the appearance and the mannerisms (effect) of high-status people without giving you the long fought for cause – small successes day after day after day.

There are no shortcuts on the road to success.  Decide now that you will earn EVERYTHING.  Do not accept the unearned, either in matter or in spirit.  Shun it, refuse it, have nothing to do with it.  Get in the gym day after day after day.  Do the work to plan ahead and eat healthy most days of the week.  Save and invest small portions of your paycheck week after week after week.  Invest time in your family and friends on a consistent basis.  Continue to advance your knowledge and grow your intelligence with a persistent effort.

I believe ultimately one of the greatest sins we unknowingly commit is the desire for the unearned.  It allows you to be suckered by any sham or con artist. It leaves you prey to fancy marketing on how to get rich, to get fit, to obtain success overnight.  To be sold dreams that have no chance of happening without the law of the farm operating over a long period of time.  Today we are awash in marketing that caters to this very desire to obtain that which we haven’t earned.  Don’t believe any of it.  You can only reap what you have sown.

Renting a private jet for 5 minutes to get a few pictures, or a couple of minutes of video, to use in a marketing scheme to sell your success story will leave you hollow.  You must endeavor to Die Proud as my favorite poem from my years of The Citadel attests (a poem I know by heart to this day.

We Die Proud

Where is the honor of yester-year

Of Thermopylae, and the Spartan’s lack of fear?

Where is the ambition to give one’s life

In the fight for Freedom, Truth, and Right?

Is to be honorable such a sin

That it brings scom from friend and kin?

O’God, to be a Man is such a struggle

That I wonder the meaning of this life of trouble.

Yet, from the back regions of my mind

I hear a lonely ECHO rise,

An ECHO that pierces my very soul

And helps me remember my goal:

“We die Proud”…. “We die Proud!”

-William Hendry, 1973

Thomas Paine said, “What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly.”  Nurture the desire and the diligence to work hard for your goals and you will cherish every one of them at your life’s end.

You cannot force a natural process.  But learn to master it and you will dominate … for “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” (Francis Bacon).

In the end, my Dad was right.  “Son, all you have to do in order to be successful, is to be honest and work hard. He left out the part about working incredibly hard over a long period of time but I think he knew I got the message.

And that’s what getting back to basic principles in health and fitness is all about. It’s why I wrote Dynamorphic Training System: Fundamentals (coming January 2019).  It’s for those patient enough and honest enough to develop and maintain their own best body.

To your well-earned health and prosperity my friend.

Lanny Littlejohn, MD

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2 responses to “The Law of the Farm and the Building Blocks of Success

  1. Lanny, I just stumbled across your blog and saw my poem. I am amazed at how God is still using WDP in so many different ways. Blessings!

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