Don’t Mistake Investing For Harvesting

We’re either investing or we’re harvesting. We shouldn’t mistake one for the other.

When we’re planting seeds – putting ideas in the ground to see them grow up later – we are investing. We invest in people, relationships, our education, etc. Investments require maintenance and focus on the long-term payoff.

When we’re picking the crop – cutting down the cornfield and collecting the ears from the stalks – we are harvesting. We harvest our gains on previous investments, extract profits, coast on accolades (as opposed to creating something new), etc. Harvesting is focused on cost controls to manage short-term payoff.

There’s a time for each. Some areas of our lives are more cyclically seasonal than others. Sometimes we get a quick return (a summer job) and sometimes we have a long time horizon (committing to a college major with hopes for a career). In all cases, the more we continuously invest, the more we can ultimately harvest. The less we invest and the more we excessively harvest, the quicker we’ll find ourselves with no seeds and a barren field.

Taking on smaller clients, being a mentor, meeting new people at an event – these are investments. Maintaining each relationship has costs. As the payoffs begin (and some will never pay off) we have to consider how/where else we are investing while we are harvesting. The profits of a college degree can be reinvested into a career. The profits from a widget sale may be used to expand the factory OR they may go straight to the owner’s pockets. Neither is wrong, but this is where a conscientious philosophy matters.

We are either investing or we are harvesting. Knowing what we are doing now and what we are going to do next matters. Will we keep investing, take a profit and reinvest a portion, or profit and move on? Our answers will ultimately define us.

It’s a simple metaphor, and it exists across our lives. Invest and harvest wisely.