Happiness is...

Accomplishing something difficult is a roller-coaster of emotions. There are good times when the pixie dust just seems to working. There are bad times when nothing you do seems to make a difference. And there is every place in between. In the last 12 hours I have been through the entire cycle on what would prove the last day of a project to rejuvenated our 1947 Ford 8N tractor. In the end, happiness is as simple as that tractor moving under it’s own steam:

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents are leaving their acreage of 34 years next week. For the last month, my brother, my Dad and I have been busily trying to repair and restore our old Ford. Many have wondered why. Well at first, it was to use it again. I wanted to have it around to use when I have an acreage of my own. Since I don’t know when that might be, it became something of a project to getting it running so it could be sold. As our deadline approached, it became a hurried rush to get it running just so we could move its plough and cultivator that are too heavy to move by hand. But really, it was something else entirely.

I’ve talked before about dirty hands and the sense of accomplishment that brings me. If you want dirty hands, work on an old tractor. But through this process I’ve discovered something: my dad likes to have dirty hands too. I have been enthralled with putting this old piece of machinery together (and tearing it apart, and putting it together, and tearing it apart). I love the magic of hundreds of pounds of cast steel and sloppy but precise electronics. I love the idiosyncrasies of a 6V (at one time) positive ground electrical system. I adore the mystery and discovery that is fiddling with its three basic systems: fuel, air and spark (four if you add compression). But most of all, I loved the journey that we took, my Dad and I, as we fiddled our way through. In the last few months, I’ve learned more of my parents as they’ve packed up a third of their life than I did in all the years that came before. And while sometimes this process has been hard, I for one have really enjoyed it.

In the end, this tractor is running. Its entirely possible that it wouldn’t have gotten there. Yesterday just before a joyous phone call from my dad recording the smooth buttery sound of that beautiful old engine purring away, I was despondent that we’d failed. But I realized, hearing the child-like joy in my dad’s voice that it was the journey to get there that I prized the most. It was that bonding and re-connection that made the process worthwhile. While pithy, it was the journey and not the destination that was the ultimate reward. Tonight I savour the joy of a running tractor and what that has meant to me and my family.


Jon Holt

A coach, an entrepreneur, and a no-bull advisor in growing small businesses through the use of practical strategy, light-weight governance and sitting back and thinking about running your business, regardless of what you do.

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