Be the Wheat, Not the Chaff

Photo by Armando Maynez.

I’m a fan of beer, especially wheat beer. Light and flavourful, and it’s about the time of year where one can really enjoy it. We’re coming into that time of year, and as I sit here enjoying a frosty cold beverage I can’t help but think of what led me to this point in my work/life balance.

You guessed it – I’m not here to write about beer.

Now, I’ve discussed the need to take yourself into account at the highest priority when it comes to what you need to do in terms of conducting your life. One of the things that was mentioned is what would happen if you don’t do this. While pretty much everyone that reads my work aspires to something greater than where they currently sit, the point is taken. In order to do your best work on a consistent basis, a benchmark is a worthwhile thing to draw comparisons to. As I went through the preparation for this article, I realized the comparisons – while warranted – weren’t exactly fair. Certainly they were balanced, but the vast differences between the two standpoints could be clarified with a biblical quote:

“…separate the wheat from the chaff” – Matthew 3

What that very saying means is to distinguish the wanted from the unwanted, the valuable from the relatively valueless. At work – and in life – you really ought to be shooting to be the wheat and not the chaff. In order to be the best you can be you have to do this.

How you do this is only part of the question…initially I’ll explain why you have to do this:

Why You Should Be The Wheat

Wheat is golden. It stands tall in the field. Wheat is widely used in a variety of things. Its straw can even be used for building roofs. It certainly has monetary value as it is widely traded on several futures markets.

You should most definitely strive to be golden – to shine in whatever you do. It is one of the things that will make out stand out among the others in your field. You don’t necessarily want to stand out over and above your peers on a constant basis, but you most definitely want to do so with the the hopes you’ll foster growth and help develop them to do the same. If anything, by doing so you’ll be able to see (and allow your superiors to see) which of those you work with that aspire to something greater. You’ll also know what you need to do to stand out amongst your colleagues as well.

As wheat stands tall, so you should do all you can to stand tall amongst others in the field. Whether it be by drawing attention to yourself by your work alone or by aligning yourself accordingly and accompanying it with a solid level of work, you need to make sure you stand out in hte crowd. Even if your colleagues are golden, those whose capabilities stand out amongst the rest stand to move further ahead. Be one of those people.

You should be versatile – and valuable. Learn what you can. Take initiative to do so. Push yourself. The more you know, the better you can serve. Your superiors know this. Strive to become well-versed in all that you can and then as you gain experience make sure you take what you’ve learned to the next level. That makes you more valuable. Play your cards right and you’ll be courted by others. Then you’re even more valuable.

That’s why you should be wheat.

Why You Shouldn’t Be The Chaff

Chaff is defined as a few things of little consequence (being inedible is just one of them), but generally it is considered waste and gets ploughed into the soil.

So it seems as if chaff is low grade. Chaff is low quality. Chaff is pretty much worthless. Chaff is about as valuable as garbage. Do you want to go through your career – your work – known as someone who puts forth a low grade, low quality effort? Do you want to be known as the employee who produced garbage? Remember, this is putting you in the same work environment as the aforementioned “wheat.” That means the only one putting you in the position to produce this level of work is…well…you.

The bottom line is that at the end of the day, chaff gets buried. Chaff can’t dig itself out because it’s perceived as something that deserves nothing better. The question is do you deserve to be buried? Do you want to be buried? Or do you deserve better?

Want more + Do more = Receive more

The choice is yours. Make the right one and make sure you push yourself to the highest level you can. Stand out. Be golden. Foster development and versatility within yourself. Contribute value.

You can be wheat if you want to be, or you can be chaff if you want nothing better.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Jen on the 17th April

    I really would love a beer right now after reading this and its only noon!

  2. Julius on the 19th April

    Similar to wheat and other plants, we should also have good soil and enough water. Good soil, for us, is a sufficient foundation of knowledge and skills. Water represents refreshment, which we need in the form of time away from work and for relaxation.

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