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Corn+Soybean Digest

Which Category Describes You? | What Traits Does a Successful Farmer Have?

This past winter I did a lot of speaking to farm groups throughout the Midwest and I’ve never had more fun. It was a pleasure meeting and conversing with so many great producers. I especially like discussing topics with them such as growth for multigenerational farms, which I’ve written about before.

Many times after my comments, producers approach me and quietly indicate they have opportunities come to them, but they’re already growing as fast as they want.

Later, I’ve had other farmers approach me and say, “Moe, I want to grow but I just cannot find the ground.” It’s long been like this, but it became more apparent this winter.

So, it occurs to me there are really two groups of growers – described above – and they are growing further apart.

That leads me to begin mapping the DNA of the successful group, the ones where opportunities are easily identified, managed and capitalized upon.

The first and most important chromosome is attitude. Farmers who feel they control their own destiny rather than their destiny being controlled by the weather, markets, competition, government and so on are the most successful.

As I’ve written before, successful people often have had more adversity than others, but it’s how they react to it that allows them to move ahead and get what they want.

The opposite attitude I’ve identified as the victimization attitude. It’s the “why me” attitude, and it can spread like cancer. They look for people and things to blame for what happens to them. There is a list of people and things that often get blamed. British Petroleum joined the list in April.

The second most important chromosome is interpersonal skills. Understanding people’s needs and meeting them is the first step to getting what you want.

While speaking in Amarillo, TX, in March I was approached by a grower who indicated he is growing as fast or faster than he wants and was recently approached by a landowner who had a very sizable acreage opportunity.

I knew I was talking to a grower in the group I first described so I got to know him better. The landowner said, “I suppose you will want a three- or five-year lease if we move forward.” The grower’s response struck me. He said, “No, let’s just go one year, I think I can make you happy after one year and I would rather do that than make you mad for three to five!”

I thought, wow, that kind of confidence and interpersonal skill gets results.

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