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Is it truly ‘out of your hands’?

Focus on what you can impact, rather than what you can’t

If you’ve farmed for any length of time, you know there are certain aspects of this job that none of us has control over. Weather is the most obvious factor that comes to mind. The 2019 growing season has demonstrated that clearly.

There are other major factors too – like global markets and everything that impacts them, local markets, supply and demand for grain both in the world and in your local area, and national and international events, policies and regulations. Add in factors like interest rates and the price of land in your area – and it can start to seem like the list never ends.

What we can do

Focusing on these areas for very long, a farm leader can begin to believe that they have little control or effect on all the factors that strongly impact their own livelihood. Thinking about these factors with the mindset of “There’s just nothing I can do – it’s all out of my hands” can lead our thoughts down a slippery slope.

It’s important not to focus solely on the fact that certain things are out of our control – but to also take the critical next step. That’s the step of accepting that while we can’t control the weather or markets or national policies, we can absolutely control how we plan, respond and adjust the way we’re running our farm business.

We accept that we don’t have control over certain things impacting our business, but take ownership in the fact that we do have control over how we, as the farm’s owner and CEO, run and manage our operation. This can be challenging at times, but it’s essential that we understand this. It will help the business navigate the twists and turns many farms face, particularly in a year like this.

Build it in

Take these three steps to further implement this mindset across your operation.

  1. Plan with flexibility in mind. Because we farm in a mix of factors beyond our control, we must create plans – in all areas of our operation – that are flexible and ready to shift and adjust based on changing conditions and situations. Holding tight to rigid plans sometimes can result in greater risk for the operation, depending on the situation.
  2. Maintain a CEO mindset. You, as the leader of your operation, are the main person who must look at your farm business as a whole – paying attention to the big picture. Set up regular, recurring time to do CEO activities: planning, thinking and risk management for your business. This may become some of the most valuable time you spend that impacts your operation’s current and future success.
  3. Stay focused on what you can do. As I mentioned before, it’s very easy to fall into focusing on the aspects of farming that truly are out of our control. However, that takes our attention away from what we really need to do: work to generate creative solutions to the challenges we face. When we focus on what we can do, we think of solutions in new ways – a major asset to our operation.

If you’d like to learn more about how to build creative solutions and plans for your farm business, you can talk with one of our advisors for the farm.

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

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