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Find your own success

Prairie Post: Untap the talent within yourself and those on your team to achieve overall success.

Kevin Schulz

January 19, 2024

4 Min Read
An illustration of a road that leads up into the clouds
PATH TO SUCCESS: Everyone has the drive within to succeed; it just may take someone else to see it or you yourself to get on the road to success. bestdesigns/Getty Images

Was 2023 a successful year? How do you feel about 2024 being a successful year?

Success is as varied as the number of people reading this. What I deem as being successful may not be the same as how you determine success. You may wish to achieve financial success aided by 300-bushel corn yields and 100-bushel soybean yields. You may aim to lessen your input costs or switch cropping practices. You may wish to have your farmland and livestock barns paid off. You may wish to have your livestock barns remain pathogen-free. You may merely wish to be happy and healthy.

If you achieve any of the above, and you’re OK with that, then you are a success.

All too often, we forget about what is good for ourselves, and worry too much about what others think of us. Do not let others determine your success. A need to “keep up with the Joneses” may be a necessity for some, but don’t cave into that unnecessary peer pressure.

Your peers won’t help you pay your bills if you are spreading yourself too thin, just to keep up appearances.

Now this may sound contradictory, but you may want to seek input from those around you, someone you really trust. Some people are their own worst critics, and I count myself in that group. Sometimes we need to see and hear what our true friends or someone on our team thinks of us. They may see something, good or bad, that we do not see in ourselves.

If they see something good in you, help that asset grow. If they point out something bad, then you know where you can grow.

Find uncut gems

I recently read “Hidden Potential” by Adam Grant, a professor specializing in organizational psychology, and as the title implies, he looks at how people should elevate themselves, as well as others, to achieve success.

Through his many real-life examples, he shows how people overcome setbacks or being overlooked. Grant also shows that progress may depend less on how hard you work and more on how well you learn.

College graduates are often rated on their grade point average, or GPA, but Grant suggests that potential employers would be wise to consider an applicant’s GPT, or grade point trajectory. GPA is an indication of the candidate’s intelligence, sort of. It is not a good indicator of the person behind the grades. Can they work well on your team and make it better?

A GPT shows how a candidate improved throughout their college career. Maybe they had to overcome adversity to get to the GPA they graduated with. College can be intimidating, and it may take time for some students to adjust, so the GPA may suffer the first semester or two. But, as is said for a game or a sport season, “It’s how you finish that counts.”

Who do you want on your farm team? Someone who comes in strong and stays the same (maintaining a good GPA)?

Or do you want someone who joins your farm team who is maybe not so strong on the workings of your farm, but is willing to put in the effort and grow in their knowledge of your farm practices, experiencing personal growth (creating a good GPT)?

In a perfect world, you would have both on your farm, and you may be so fortunate. I venture that if you have someone who continues to grow in their own skin, that person will help your farm grow.

How do you see yourself? Someone with a strong GPA or a strong GPT, looking for continual growth?

You can also apply GPT to your farm. Everyone wants to achieve high yields, but can you go from 212-bushel corn one year to 312-bushel corn the next? Probably not, but does that mean you aren’t successful? No.

If you establish a plan with the goal to reach that plateau, and you have steady growth, when you do achieve that yield mark or exceed it, it may be more rewarding.

Of course, you can have the best plan, and Mother Nature or other outside factors can derail your goal — but if you are making progress, you can achieve success.

Comments? Send email to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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