You Reap What You Sow: The Law of Harvest

Written  by Rida Tahir on Aug 08, 2020 (7 minute read)

Look around yourself and you’ll see how the universe is governed by laws. Laws exist naturally and aren’t created by man, only discovered. The law of harvest being one of them is as natural and universal as the law of gravity. It applies to everyone and is immutable. It's not a new concept; much has been said and written about it since time immemorial because it is an observable principle of life. Our lives revolve around this basic principle.

The law of harvest dictates that you reap what you sow. You can’t sow cherries and expect to reap mangoes out of it. If you do good, you will certainly reap the rewards in one way or the other. Even if you don’t get a tangible reward for your deeds, personal satisfaction and mental peace is guaranteed. If, on the other hand, you do evil, sooner or later you are going to have to pay for the consequences and you're not going to like it. 

A farmer has to till or prepare the soil, fertilize it, plant the seeds, water it day after day, tend to the weeds, protect it from insects and other harmful things, and check on it constantly to harvest it at the right time. Harvesting a crop is a slow and long process and there is no shortcut for it. It requires a lot of hard work and patience. It is not possible for the farmer to harvest a great crop unless he invests a lot of time to work on the growth of the crop carefully and consistently over a long period of time.

Imagine a farmer using shortcuts expecting to reap a good harvest, or planting a crop, slacking off the whole year doing nothing and expecting to reap a great harvest at the end of the year. Does that sound practicable?  

The truth is, everything has a price and the price must be paid. While shortcuts may seem like the best way to get what you want in life, there are no shortcuts to real learning, growth, success, influence and character.

The law of harvest can be applied to sports, business, relationships or any other arena of life. You can see the manifestation of this law in your student life as well. Ever performed terribly on a test? You know the reason. You didn’t study as well as you should have, or maybe you didn’t study at all. Either way you got a D or an F because of your own choices i.e. you reaped what you had sown. Had you taken time to prepare for the test thoroughly studying the material, you would have been able to ace the test. This shows how every choice has a consequence.

The law of harvest, as you have begun to see, is at the core of real learning and growth. Real learning comes from dedication, persistence, commitment and hard work. Unsurprisingly, a student who slacks off during the whole semester will almost always be found cramming through the end of the semester hoping to get a good grade in exam or to simply clear it with a passing grade. This, undoubtedly, is not a good approach. Even though it’s entirely possible to score good on an exam by way of cramming a day or two before, it’s going to be counterproductive in the long run. You might succeed at having a remarkable progress report by cramming at the 11th hour, but you will surely miss out on the learning and growth that can only be acquired gradually over time with understanding, internalization, practice and implementation of knowledge.

Thus, to reap the benefits of real growth and learning, you must be willing to work diligently and consistently towards your goal, every day, little by little.

If doing well or exceptionally well in the academic arena is your goal, you must study regularly throughout the semester, instead of cramming the night before exam. Human brain is not like an empty vessel that you can stuff with knowledge. It’s like a tiny shoot of a plant that grows only when you spend time slowly but steadily watering it, nurturing it with constant doses of knowledge and wisdom.

If having influence, credibility and authority in your field is your goal, you must consistently work on your craft as well as read, learn, research and share your knowledge with others for years before people will start to see you as an authority in your field.

If you want to become a master at composing music, you will have to learn and create music for years, inevitably composing trash at first before you come up with gold. Don’t expect your first song to resemble Beethoven’s symphonies, unless you are a true musical genius like him.

If you want to paint like the masters and be a famous artist, you must dedicate hours and years of your life practicing your craft, continuously improving your skills and knowledge, and putting your art in front of the world for feedback before the world will see and recognize you as a great artist worthy of their respect and recognition. Again, you will create a lot of mediocre art and even trash before you create your first masterpiece. Your first painting is unlikely to be a masterpiece, unless you are a prodigy.

If you want to become a writer, you will write a lot of shitty first drafts that make no sense before your writing is good enough to strike a chord with the readers and be worthy of their time and attention. That’s okay because it’s part of the process. Eventually, out of all that crap, something extraordinary will emerge and you will be proud of it. The difference between good and bad writers is that good writers take the time to research, write, edit and revise, until they are happy with the final product. Every article that you have ever read took hours to write. Every book that you have read took months or years to write.

The gist of the matter is, if you don’t pay the price, you don’t achieve the desired results. It’s as simple as that. You cannot ‘cram your way’ to learning, growth, success, influence and character. Matt Morgan says in his article on the law of harvest,

"At its core, cramming is really just procrastination combined with a heavy dose of “freak out” at the end. However, the important things in life don’t work this way. You can’t cram in some physical fitness just before your heart attack. You can’t cram some savings just before retirement. You can’t cram experience, knowledge, and relationships into your life just before you die. Building health, wealth, and wisdom doesn’t work this way. It’s slow and steady investment, day-after-day. You have to pay the price."

The law of harvest, much like the law of cause and effect, works in a predetermined way and you are the one who predetermines the consequences by choosing to pay the price or looking for shortcuts. Your choice determines the kind of harvest you are going to reap. When you pick one end of the stick, you pick up the other end too, as Stephen Covey puts it.  

Life is not like a computer. There are no shortcuts and no forward buttons. You cannot press ctrl + x to delete an outcome. You cannot press ctrl + z and there is no undo button that you can push to undo what you have done in the past, nor does it have a restart and restore button to get back to some point in history and do something you previously did not deem important enough to do.

Life is like a vast field where you have to consciously and carefully choose what to sow and reap the harvest after dedicated and unfailing hard work.