The Keys to Forging Farm Success

Part Eight: Build Perseverance.

The final key as I've seen in my experience is about building perseverance in ourselves.

I believe perseverance comes from two things – a clear understanding of "the why" (where are we going and why are we doing this?) and a passion for what we do. A common theme I've heard many times in the past 10 years is that farming is just not fun anymore. "I don't enjoy this anymore," or, "I used to be so passionate about what I did," and  "I can't wait to get out of this business" are sadly heard. That's heart breaking.

On the other hand, it's exciting to be at a seminar where farmers are passionate about the business and enthused about the future. These are the words you say to yourself in that camp:  "I know there are going to be obstacles in the future. I know there will be hurdles we'll have to overcome. I'm going to raise my game and surround myself with people that challenge me and my thinking. I can do something about my future."

These are the people who are the face of the future in agriculture. They make plans to create opportunities instead of just seeing what happens. This is different from lifestyle farming. Lifestyle farming is merely doing what we love to do. Farming today is not a lifestyle; it is a business and now more than ever needs a vision.

The vision must incorporate plans to overcome any obstacle. It will take perseverance. It will take energy. Just like forging steel takes heat, this farming business takes energy and vision.  

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is an author who talks about the concept of "flow." He may have needed to get into this state early in life, just to master spelling his last name.

"Flow" has a lot to do with how much fun you have farming. It's a match between your level of expertise and the level of the challenge. On a scale of 1 to 10, if you are a ten as an agronomist, you enjoy a complex crop year and pushing your skills to the next level. You are interested in bugs and hybrids and tillage and every element. You find yourseIf in a state of "flow" which means time flies, you are productive and you love your work.

Now, if you're a three as an agronomist, it's not fun. It's overwhelming. You're grumpy more often. You don't know how you'll get through.   

I believe a lot of farmers in the 90s were feeling that "flow." They were making money. Volatility was less than now. They were rewarded for agronomic skills. They could work harder and produce more. They did what they loved and felt in control of their destiny.

In the past 10 years the challenge of farming has started to outweigh our skills. When that happens we shift to anxiety and worry. Knowing where the challenge is and where our skills are is a major key to success. Some farmers have moved to apathy…just waiting for the game to change. That's not a solution.

The challenges aren't going away. Those who do not buy in to victim mentality persevere and think, "How am I going to address this? What am I going to do?"

What does your thinking say?

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