Farmer Able: Art Barter

You need a business book that will only take a day or two to get through. You need a practical book that can get you thinking about what’s important in your professional and personal life. You need Farmer Able: A Fable About Servant Leadership Transforming Organizations and People from the Inside Out.

Art Barter published this wonderful work in 2015 that will have you considering your priorities and eliminating dysfunction right away! It has already been endorsed by Stephen M.R. Covey, Ken Blanchard , and John C. Maxwell. Be sure to share this with others and get started on the newly launched companion, The Servant Leadership Journal: An 18 Week Journey to Transform You and Your Organization.

Here’s a sample, provided by Weaving Influence. If you aren’t familiar with Becky Robinson and her team, they are simply the best at building an online presence for new books. Check them out at

The pigs are running the farm. So begins the story of Farmer Able. Everyone on his farm — people and animals alike — are downright downtrodden by him. He’s overbearing and compulsively obsessed with profits and productivity. He’s a typical top-down, power-based manager, forever tallying production numbers in his well-worn ledgers. But the more he pushes the hoofs and horns and humans, the more they dig in their heels. That is until one day when he hears a mysterious wind that whispers: “It’s not all about me.” Can he turn things around and begin attending to the needs of those on his farm, thus improving their attitudes and productivity?

The following is an excerpt from chapter 16 of Farmer Able.


Farmer Able continued to shore up the many forgotten things around the barn — fixing this and cleaning out that. Why, he even trimmed the horses’ hoofs, which will make any steed feel light-footed and even a bit light-hearted.

Perhaps all this effort was due to shame. Even when Farmer Able’s heart was cold and his head so calculating, he knew deep down he was mistreating his furry friends. He began to see that whipping them into shape had actually been born of whipping himself inside.

Certainly this Old Dirt knows the real grit that can sully a human heart. Shame has a certain escalating cycle. The more people feel bad, the more they pursue bad; the more they pursue bad, the more they feel bad. That’s the mucky-muck of it.

Strangely, it was the wind that had given Farmer Able a reprieve. The message, though at first quite an offense, was liberating. The farmer’s self-destructive road to perdition had certainly earned him a just punishment. You sow to the wind; you reap the whirlwind. But here was the wind offering just the opposite: a clean breath of fresh air. The initial message It’s not about me — once grasped — had actually elevated the farmer to a position outside of himself.

Could it be that somewhere where the wind originated — perhaps resonating in the greater ether of the universe — love had trumped the hate in the farmer’s heart? Maybe this was the joy the farmer was now feeling, like a prisoner released from irons.

An unexpected transformation also alighted. Farmer Able’s fear was replaced by a general sense of compassion. The farmer remembered a fact he’d learned about ants some time ago. Though they may be tiny, they can carry 50 times their body weight. He thought, as he considered their self-sacrificing ethic: maybe their earnest hearts have the capacity of 50 x 50 when it comes to caring.

Farmer Able figured the tracks they made across his ledger book pointed to a new way of thinking. The panic that had compulsively caused him to pencil in those ever-dwindling numbers could now be erased. That’s not to say productivity and profits were to be ignored. No, all these new ideals would be his approach to creating higher yields.

As his own self-flagellation abated, he became more aware of his lashing out at others. Amends needed to be made. He put away the whip and the dreaded twitch he’d used on Harry and the other horses. He considered Ernie’s gentle hide stroking in the milk barn and tried to emulate it. Strangely, coaxing out the milk was a concept that resonated. Yes, this new approach was largely unfamiliar, but in the deeper recesses of his newly formed being, it all added up.


Art Barter believes everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. To teach about the power of servant leadership, Art started in his own backyard by rebuilding the culture of the manufacturing company he bought, Datron World Communications. Art took Datron’s traditional power-led model and turned it upside down and the result was the international radio manufacturer grew from a $10 million company to a $200 million company in six years. Fueled by his passion for servant leadership, Art created the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI).

To learn more about Art and his new Servant Leadership Journal, as well as his book on servant leadership, Farmer Able: A Fable About Servant Leadership Transforming Organizations And People From The Inside Out, visit