The Keys to Forging Farm Success

Number one: Turn values into action.

We look at our businesses and search for ways to improve, to get the edge, to grow the operation into more of what we want it to be. This takes a number of right behaviors. This week I'm going to start down a path of revealing what we at Water Street Solutions believe those behaviors to be. I think you'll find a nugget or two that you can use to bring about results.

What I've seen working with farmers is that the best decision-makers use their clearly defined values - those things that are very important to them - to guide their decisions. They have taken the time needed to identify their personal and professional values, and turned them into action. Core values are the cornerstones to everything that we do and create in our lives. 

Think about what we see in the news with politicians and business leaders. A scandal breaks out and resulting action is taken. Decisions and lives may be moved forward without deliberate adherence to core values. We thought their character was solid but soon realize it was built on sand. There were shaky values at best, and they were not likely considered as a guiding factor.

Agriculture is different. Values are still visible and in the forefront. But here's the challenge with something that's so apparent. Values are like electricity. How many people think about electricity and are amazed by it every time they turn the lights on? Not many, right? We think about electricity when the power goes out. We're crippled by its absence.

Values may be so apparent to us that we need to stop occasionally and do some digging. We should step back and specifically identify them. A simple way to bring your values to light is this: Think about things others do that frustrate you. The flip side of that irritation likely reveals something that is one of your values. 

Once we identify our values and apply them to the decisions in life, many things come into focus, such as who we will do business with. We can see clearly to the bottom of each decision. This behavior is what I have observed in farmers who are more at peace, less caught up in the details and less frustrated. They know their values. 

If you want to work on your values, schedule a time by yourself, with your spouse, or with your partner in the operation. Ask these questions to begin your thought process, "What are the things that we're passionate about?" "What are the things that are important to us?" The list could be three to five things. Don't come up with too many or you will lose focus.

Write them down. Share them. Then make them come alive. 

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