What do you think of when you consider the concept of stewardship? Those of us on the farm are usually quite familiar with that term. We’re used to practicing good stewardship of our land, crops and animals. We’re even entrusted to be stewards of the land of other landowners.
Here’s another way to look at the idea of stewardship and being a good steward on the farm. As a farm leader, what are your most valuable resources in your operation? Your farm’s assets probably come to mind, as well as the people who work on your farm.
What about your time and your attention? Time tends to be a scarce resource, especially for a busy farm leader. And our attention usually has several different items competing for it at any given moment. Sometimes it can feel difficult to focus on just about anything.
When I think about being a good steward of time and attention, the key is: What are we choosing to focus on? We make those decisions from the evaluations we do in our minds about what’s most critical at the moment. One evaluation a farm leader has to make is determining what’s most important to the long-term health and success of the farm business.
And what’s most important isn’t always what’s demanding our attention at any given moment. Being a good steward of our attention can mean making some tough choices. It means frequently stopping to consider: What factors will have the biggest impact on my farm’s future and success?
What’s most important?
If we don’t choose to focus on what’s important, the future of the operation could look a lot different than we want it to. The key is long-term thinking. When you imagine the future of your farm, what does it looks like in five and ten years from now? What do you need to be doing now in order to get it there?
This is what being a good steward of time and attention is all about: choosing to focus intentionally on the most important factors that affect the success of your farm. Once you’ve identified what those factors are, you can create a plan and take steps toward what you’ve chosen to focus on – and also to direct the attention of others in your operation.
Take some time this winter to consider how you – and others on your farm – might become even better stewards of time and attention. You might also take a look at our most recent Smart Series quarterly newsletter publication – focused on bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. Check out this issue – on flex cash rent leases, lender meetings, leadership on the farm, holding effective meetings on the farm, and global markets.