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One Can’t Be Enough – for Oct. 11, 2010

In other industries, the names come instantly to mind. In music, of course, there s Lennon and McCartney, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Simon and Garfunkel. In science there s Watson and Crick, in politics there s Marx and Engels, and in engineering there s Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard messing about with bits of wire in a Palo Alto garage in 1939.

We think of these partnerships as somehow magical. Two people who were exactly the right combination for each other s strengths and weaknesses got jumbled together, and by some fluke, they clicked.

Except, it wasn t a fluke. A major new finding of psychology is that this myth of the lone genius is exactly that, a myth.

Virtually every lone genius, it turns out, has actually been a partnership. We ve just never known the other name, or the other names. Steve Jobs would never have created the Apple brand without Jonathan Ive. Einstein needed Besso. Even Tiger Woods, the hallmark of success in the sport that seems closest to farming, needed his caddy Steve Williams beside him.

Sometimes it s a partnership of two. Sometimes it s a partnership of three or more. But it s almost never a solo effort because, as biology and psychology are learning, we simply aren t built that way. Yes, partnerships bring more skills and resources into play, but much more importantly, partnerships produce energy, they provoke and stimulate, they create the unexpected.

Little gets done without them. When we look around in our own communities, we sense the truth of it. Sometimes the sparks fly across generations, with a parent or a mentor who becomes a guiding spirit. Sometimes the sparks are between siblings, or between husband and wife, or sometimes with someone who seems at first more unequal.

Whenever something truly remarkable has happened, however, sparks have flown. The exceptions are, well, exceptional.

All this is timely because, increasingly, farming is demanding the remarkable. And it will become more so. Survival may be possible for those who are skilled and disciplined. Success will demand the added elements of vision and inspiration. As the numbers get bigger, so do the opportunities, and so do the risks.

If you re mid-career or if you re just starting out, your most important marketing decision may be to find the person (or the people) who will help you elevate your game. There isn t an e-Harmony to do this. There isn t a tried-and-true pathway. But we do know two things. We know, first, you ll only succeed if you re open to the possibility. Second, it helps if you consciously plan to mix and inter-mix with a broader group of people.

This winter, we will bring you a series of stories of farmers across the country who are creating their own partnerships. Indeed, you may have some to suggest to us. If you do, I m at 519 674-1449, or you can reach me at [email protected] In an industry where self-reliance always seemed such a virtue, it s time for a new think.



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