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Three steps to confront curveballs on the farm

Step back emotionally, assess carefully, and then take action.

On the farm, leaders are no stranger to the wide array of “curveballs” or unexpected events or situations that can happen, coming from both inside and outside the operation. When one happens, it’s often sudden, with far-reaching effects.

Curveballs on the farm can come from weather situations, equipment breakdowns, supplier mishaps, global events, you name it. The question isn’t if they will happen, but when. Often, the farm leader doesn’t have a great deal of control over what’s happening, which can be overwhelming.

Get ready

The key isn’t trying to control or anticipate the curveballs that will happen, but to prepare in terms of how you will respond. This doesn’t mean planning for the specifics of what you’re going to do after a curveball arrives, but more in how you will respond in terms of your process and mindset.

A healthy mindset when it comes to curveballs involves first stepping back emotionally from the situation, assessing the situation with an open mind, and then working to impact and control what you can control. Taking these steps, in this order, helps bring a measured, logic-driven response to what can otherwise be a very emotionally charged time.

Three steps

First, step back emotionally. This is a critical step to take before you move into problem-solving mode or take any other action. It can also be a very difficult step because, naturally, every farm leader is both emotionally and financially invested in their operation. When a curveball happens, particularly one that could have a damaging impact on the operation, there’s an emotional reaction to that.

It’s ok to have an initial reaction that involves emotion, but the key is to take a step back after that. Otherwise, the decision-making process could become driven by the emotion of the reaction. When action must be taken quickly, try to take a few seconds or minutes to emotionally step back before you make a decision about what to do next. If you can take more time than that or if the situation doesn’t require you to act immediately, that’s even better.

The next step is to assess the situation with an open mind. Depending on the curveball you were thrown, doing this could be difficult. If possible, it can be helpful to enlist someone else to give you their perspective on the situation and potential next steps, especially someone who is a third party to your operation. A trusted advisor can bring new insight to your situation that you and others in your operation may not have thought about.

Finally, work to impact and control what you can control by taking action. Most farmers (and people in general) want to jump in right here, at this last step. It feels good to take action to impact our farm’s situation. But we need to lay careful groundwork first, if possible, by stepping back emotionally and assessing the situation. Then we have a good handle on what we can control and what we can’t, and work to create a plan of action around what we can do to improve things.

Farm leaders often say they feel that the commodity markets throw them many curveballs. It’s essential to have a trusted market advisor to bring outside perspective and insight when you’re confronting curveballs from the market. Get in touch with our market advisors today.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
TAGS: Management
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