Farm Progress

What can shooting clays teach us about business?

Sometimes we need to slow down and focus on the target.

Tim Schaefer

July 13, 2018

3 Min Read

The orange disk was a blur but then became clear. When we were able to focus our eyes on the clay disk we could see details. We saw the shadow from the sun form in the top of the clay pigeon, and the counterclockwiserotation. In reality,the disk was in the air just a short time but when we focused our eyes on the target, time itself seem to slow down. Then the orange disk disintegratedin a cloud of orange dusk accompanied by the crash of the shotgun.

Just like the blur of the claypigeon; How often do we get caught up in the blur of life, of business and family that we can’t really focus on our target or goals?  How often does one week run into another, months pile up and another year goes by without dealing with the big important issues in life? Maybe it’s our transition plan, the naggingemployee challenges or keeping better financial records. If we are caught up in the blur of life how can we hit our targets?

For years I focused on the technical aspects of shooting a shotgun. Pull the gun into my shoulder, get a good cheek weld, squeeze the shot and follow through. It was a lot to keep in mind when the rooster pheasant exploded under my feet. Too often there was a missed opportunity to make an easy shot. I missed my goal.

As business owners,we get caught up in the technicalaspects of our jobs. We need to prepare equipment, plant, spray, etc. The list is endless. There many technical aspectsof agproduction that take up our time and most importantly, our focus.

When we lose focus we lose the ability to hit our target. When coaching farmers one of the first things I do is help them determine what is truly important to them for their long-term success. We then create a process so they can make time to focus on solving those important long-term goals. Transition planning is an example of a long-term goal that is often put on the back burner because there are more urgentand often less important, items that catch our focus.

The shooting instructor’s advice was deceptively simple. When you see the blur of the clay target in the air, do nothing except bring your eyes into sharp focus on the target. When you are able to intently focus your eyes on the target two things will happen. The blur will seem to slow down and your hands will instinctively move towards the target.  Almost like magic we were hitting targets one after another and turning them into orange powder.

In life and in business we are constantly in motion, but like hitting a clay target sometimes we need to slow down and focus on the target. Finding focus means we need to pause and correctly identifythe root cause of our challenges. Like my hands on the shotgun,we will instinctivelymove towards the goal on which we are keenly focused.

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

About the Author(s)

Tim Schaefer

Founder, Encore Wealth Advisors

Tim Schaefer guides large, successful farm operations, helping them get and keep a competitive edge. His tools are peer groups via the Encore Executive Farmer Network, transition planning, business growth planning, and executive coaching. His print column, Transitions & Strategies, appears regularly in Farm Futures and online at He is a Certified Family Business Advisor, Certified Business Coach and Certified Financial Planner. Raised on a successful family farm, his first business venture was selling sweet corn door to door with an Oliver 70.

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