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.

Given the difficult state of the dairy industry, lenders might, in some situations, be taking longer to make their credit decisions. Is this truly a tough year? YES!!! Is it the end of the world? Hardly. Is your dairy farm loan renewal taking longer than usual this year? Perhaps, but so are the renewals of many other dairy farms.

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.”

It’s time for a reality check. Maybe I’ve missed something. I’ve been in the dairy industry for almost 40 years. I got my first job in it when I was in my early teens. Now, I think I’ve seen it all. A program for banks called TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) now being in need of a new name: TRAP! Let me tell you why I’m so ticked off.

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.”

There is an epidemic going around America today. Thousands of people have a genuine challenge with simply making a decision. I’ve been thinking about this issue and have concluded that there are likely many reasons for this problem. At the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil, here are a few of the ones I came up with. Perhaps, you can think of some others and thereby help yourself to be more decisive going forward.

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.”

Do you ever feel like your operation needs some fresh thinking? I do. That’s precisely why I read so many different books and publications…to get great new ideas. Maybe it’s time to change our thinking in the Dairy Industry NOW!! Seth Godin, in his book The Big Moo, explained his thoughts on organizations. This can include your business, your bank, your vendors, and even your milk cooperative

“The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it.” One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it. In a period of upheavals, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm. To be sure, it is painful and risky, and above all it requires a great deal of very hard work. But unless it is seen as the task of the organization to lead change, the organization will not survive. In a period of rapid structural change, the only ones who survive are the change leaders. A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, knows how to find the right changes, and knows how to make them effective both outside the organization and inside it.