Your 2015 Mindset

By: Don Tyler

The transition between calendar years tends to enhance the focus on our performance over the past year and our goals for the coming year. Nearly everyone experiences this tendency, but I think it is stronger in those in agriculture. The changing of the seasons, the completion of one crop and the planning for another, as well as the closing of the year’s finances all heighten our optimism for the year to come.

Optimism is a great starting point, but without a plan the desire for improvement is no better than a dream that is gone minutes after we wake. A written plan requires vision, planning, goals, timetables and action steps that can be followed throughout the year.

Rather than provide a list of strategies, here are a few questions that should be addressed as a part of your prioritizing for the next year:

What problems have you been working on for the last few years—but your progress is disappointing?

Albert Einstein is known for having a great understanding of how the universe works, but he also understood human nature. One of his more famous quotes is, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again….Expecting different results!” If you have a production, management, family or personnel issue that you have been struggling with for years, it’s time to address it seriously and quit hoping that it will get better on its own.

Are you taking enough initiative in your business to adapt new strategies and technology?

One of my clients tells me often that he realized early in his career that the successful people he knew had a philosophy that he needed to adopt. His philosophy, “What am I willing to do that others are not?”

He said that he was willing to work harder, learn new skills, take on challenges and delay gratification early in his life so that he could ensure a more stable future for him and his family. He ran older equipment and learned how to fix it. Using paint, welding rods, acetylene—and a strong work ethic—he pulled together used storage and handling equipment, fixed it up, and developed a very efficient system for handling feed and other inputs. This producer is also unafraid to try new technology and management strategies—so long as it will pay for itself in a short period of time.

Do you know when one of your people—or any other resource—has reached its potential?

It seems that one of the toughest decisions a business has to make is when one of their employees has reached their potential and is actually holding back that department, or perhaps even the entire business. This is especially true in family operations. The speed that technology advances has forced us to evaluate our ability to adopt those new resources. Unfortunately, the weak link is often a person whose skillset is no longer up to the needs of the position. It’s tough, but we cannot allow one person’s limitations to inhibit the progress of the entire operation. Develop a plan for transitioning this person to something more suitable to their skills.

What are you doing for your industry?

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Have a plan for ensuring that your industry is viable for future generations of ambitious individuals with a passion for agriculture.

What is your greatest frustration?

I often ask my clients, “What causes you to lose sleep?” or “When you wake up in the middle of the night, what is the first problem that comes to mind that you need to solve?” The answer to this question can reveal a current situation that you need to put more focus on, or a long-term issue that requires a thorough strategy to resolve.

Perhaps you’ve had a string of challenges. Keep in mind a quote that is attributed to Winston Churchill…. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” Don Tyler is the owner of Tyler & Associates, Clarks Hill, IN. For more information on these and other business or employee management topics, contact him at 765-523-3259 or

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