Planning for the Unexpected - Envisioning the Future

As a farm owner / operator, we have learned to expect the unexpected. At times, it may seem that all the planning that can be done is still not enough to prepare for the unexpected changes in the weather and in markets. Planning and preparation may seem to be a daunting and formidable task. However, that is the nature of our industry and it is not for the faint of heart.

With the recent natural disasters, caused by weather, coupled with the recent swings in commodity markets, it can truly make the most seasoned of farm owners and operators on edge and irritable. Therefore, we have put together a few tips for you, to be of help to you towards guiding your planning (and keeping your head on straight).

  1. Always keep proper perspective of what truly matters (Never allow money to become master of your mood or character.)
  2. Recognize your most valuable asset; your own productivity and creativity (The resourcefulness and creativity of the people around you and yourself.)
  3. Family comes first (While the goal of your operation is to both provide for yourself, and your family, never allow the operation itself to become more important than the people around you. Remember the most valuable resource is people, their mental and physical resourcefulness, and community.)
  4. Identify vision and goals as a team (This includes identifying challenges and risks, developing a map of scenarios, and then developing a road-map towards overcoming each challenge or scenario, should one or several of them happen. The same is true for both family and business. Having a set vision, as a family or team, allow everyone to filter through thoughts, decisions, communication and actions in order to prioritize and act upon what is in the best interest of the team.)
  5. Identify and develop a list of short, mid and long term goals and priorities as a team, or family.
  6. Work on good, transparent, concise, clear and graceful communication. Keep in mind that people are not perfect and communication can often be misinterpreted, misstated or misunderstood. The truth of listening includes thinking about and trying to understand each other. Listening is the most important part of communication; without it, no team can hope to operate effectively or efficiently.
  7. Keep an open and humble mindset (Keeping and open and humble mindset, and developing this same mindset within your team, or family, allows for greater adaptability towards the unexpected; and greater ingenuity when faced with adversity.)
  8. Focus on becoming the best of what you're good at (Everyone has a unique skill, talent, gifting and passion that allows them to be of value to the greater community. Focus on these and don't try to become a master of everything - it's simply not possible. One can be good at a lot of things, but not the best at everything. Be of value to the family, team and community with what you are best at.)
  9. Identify and eliminate distractions to your focus. (This takes some skill in identifying what is a necessary or unnecessary distraction.)
  10. Set aside a focused time for faith, meditation, relaxation and family. Sports and recreation are great ways to develop rapport and trust between people, which allows thoughts and communication to flow more fluently and effectively. These times also create a bond of loyalty and respect between people, which might not otherwise develop.

Finally, in times of instability or turmoil, the most effective defense is one of community, togetherness and vision. Allowing yourself, or anyone close to you, to become isolated, is a recipe for disaster.