2011 may be a year some dairy industry producers would like to forget about. . .

Author Steve Chandler, in his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, says, “Whatever type of problem you are facing, the most self-motivated exercise I know of is to immediately say to yourself, ‘I am the problem.’ Because once you see yourself as the problem, you can see yourself as the solution. When we see ourselves as victims of our problems, we lose the power to solve them. We shut down creativity when we declare the source of the trouble to be outside of us. However, once we say, ‘I am the problem,’ there is great power that shifts from the outside to the inside. Now we can become the solution.” This is equally true on your dairy farm and throughout the dairy industry.

Dairy farmers have a solid business lesson to learn from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal written by Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, in which he discussed his state’s efforts to reform education and how difficult the process really has been. He stated, “The reality of reform is vastly different from the theory, and change is a lot harder than it looks. But there are a few rules for real reform that makes it possible.” I realized many of the same rules apply to making certain we have our dairy operations “reformed,” especially after prosperous years like 2007 and 2008.

One of my favorite business quotes is Jack Welch’s: “Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it were.” I recently read an article in Inc. magazine written by Adam Hanft that was entitled, “The Risk of Doing Nothing.”

I recently finished reading a book on leadership entitled Team Secrets of the Navy Seals written by an anonymous author who actually continues to serve as one of our U.S. Navy Seals and hence wishes not to reveal his identity. One of the most significant lessons expressed in the book revolves around our need for constant evaluation of “… whether you can afford to work with a ‘leadership challenge’ or whether it makes more sense to find a replacement” for that employee. The author goes on to say that “If the weak Team member is truly a good person, try to find another job for them. Do not keep them on for fear of hurting their feelings. It will hurt both them and your Team.”

In their book Confronting Reality, authors Larry Bossily and Pam Charda discuss how any business expecting to stay around in the new environment must raise the bar for leadership. They state, “Two leadership qualities have become absolutely indispensable today, and they aren’t on the usual lists. The first is business acumen, more commonly called business savvy. The second is a need to know—or, to put it another way, a refusal to take anything for granted, an insatiable curiosity about what’s new and different.”

Remember the song entitled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”? Humorous? Yes, you couldn’t help but smile when you heard it! Wish you could do so? Yes. Realistic? Probably Not!

We’ve talked previously about setting goals! There are benefits to being prepared for crises that can occur in your business. We need to have a plan in place for these types of challenges.

Futurists Jim Taylor and Watts Wacker, in their book The 500 Year Delta, stated that every business should develop a “Disaster Agenda”. While all of us are faced with negative challenges and nobody wants to dwell on them, we would be well served if we have given these situations some forethought. This is true for a crisis that might occur in any part of your operation: herd health, nutrition, facilities, management, or finances.