Business and history usually seem like very different topics. This is true in both an academic and conversational sense. People just tend to see business as a modern and dynamic thing. They see it as something wholly distinct from the past. In fact, some people might even offer up caution against looking backward rather than forward. The business world stresses an importance when it comes to keeping your gaze focused on what’s going to happen next.
But there’s a saying regarding history which people would do quite well to remember. It states that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. And companies often do find themselves doing so. There’s really very little in the way of excuses either. When people ignore the past it’s usually done through willful determination.
People don’t want to admit a chance of failure. And as such they ignore suggestions from the past which might make it seem probable. This is somewhat similar to a person who discovers a strange growth on themselves but refuses to go to the doctor. Their excuse being that it isn’t really cancer until it’s diagnosed as such.
It’s a obviously flawed way of thinking. But it really is what people hold on to. Which brings us to another topic which might not seem obvious at first. The topic is topsoil, and how it relates to the past, present and future of business. The reason we’ve talked so much about history is that topsoil is arguably one of the single biggest business issues in the history of the US.
Some people might laugh at that idea. But once again, it’s important to consider the nature of history. Look back far enough and you’ll find something known as the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl came about due to the overzealous misuse of topsoil by farmers in the 1930s. This might seem like something that would be confined to a small area. But the overall impact was immense.
Misuse of topsoil was just how it was done at the time. People were essentially trying to make as much money out of it as quickly as possible. They knew something that we’re quite familiar with too. They knew that for all our stories about buried treasure, the actual money is in soil itself. And they wanted to cash in as quickly as possible.
But the big problem is that they didn’t have another saying we’re very familiar with. It takes money to make money. And when it comes to soil the saying translates pretty well. You need good soil to keep up the infrastructure which allows you to make use of it. Farmers at the time didn’t do so. And the end effect was land that became useless for a huge amount of time. Thousands of families went from happy to destitute wanderers in search of even the smallest chance of a new life.
That’s also why people in, say, Tacoma need to remember the newer styles of farming. Buying and using any topsoil tacoma wa style involves mixing the old and the new. It’s about finding how one can properly use soil without using it up.
People often have trouble knowing how to manage their soil. But today the resources exist to properly replenish it and let it heal. But that can only happen when one remembers the mistakes of the past.