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Stop trying to guess what will happen next

Instead, plan for a variety of situations and always be ready to pivot

As a farm leader, it can often feel like we’re playing a game of “guess what will happen next.” It’s true that as a business leader, you need to stay on top of your business and what’s coming down the pipe. But that responsibility can also lead to feelings of burnout, uncertainty, frustration and anxiety.

I recently heard someone mention something about the way they drive that made me think about what a farm leader must do for their business. This person said that when they drive, they’re aren’t basing their own driving actions on what they hope or think the cars ahead of them and around them will do. They’re ready to react to the whole array of potential scenarios that could happen due to the other drivers’ choices.

On the road

For example, if the driver was late to an appointment and approaching a stoplight that had just turned yellow with another car in front of them, they wouldn’t simply hope or assume that the driver in front of them would continue through the intersection. They would think about the main potential scenarios that could happen: the car in front of them could continue through the intersection or could begin to brake and stop at the light.

Even though this driver might really want the car in front of them to continue through the intersection, they considered the other main scenario – that the car could brake suddenly and stop. By being mentally prepared for what they would do based on the choice of the person in front of them (which they had no control over), the driver would be able to act accordingly in either situation, preventing an accident and maintaining a safe driving record.

This is the same type of driving philosophy that the safest truck drivers have been found to use. By constantly being mentally prepared for a variety of potential driving scenarios at any given moment, they can quickly respond and adapt. They’re ready for situations created by other drivers’ choices, which can’t really be predicted or influenced.

On the farm

I think farm leaders can adapt this way of thinking to their own leadership and decision-making. Think about the main factors that impact your operation. First, which are and which are not under your direct control? Now, how can you work to prepare your mindset and plan like the safe drivers I talked about?

A good habit to cultivate is to prepare not only for what you hope or wish would happen – your ideal scenario – but also for a variety of other situations that could potentially happen. This is good business management and planning, and it’s important to be doing it in all areas of your business. Thinking this way can also help you better manage risk in your operation because you’re preparing for many different scenarios, not just your ideal.

In what areas of your operation are you already doing a good job of anticipating and preparing for a variety of different scenarios? Where would you like to take your management game to the next level?

Our market advisors work with clients to create marketing plans that use different scenarios and are tailored to the needs of the farm leader’s operation. You can get in touch with our advisors to talk more about this.

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

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