“Secure Your Own Mask First!”

For those of you who have ever been on a commercial airline flight in the United States, you are probably very familiar with this warning: “In the event of an unexpected decrease in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from above your seat. If this happens, please place it over your mouth and nose. Be sure to secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to assist others.” Sound advice, isn’t it? Actually, the more I thought about this advice from the airlines, the more I decided that it also made a lot of sense for those of us in the dairy industry. In fact, it makes a great deal of sense for any business, including my own consulting firm. How can we assist others if we don’t have our own “oxygen mask” secured first? The “oxygen mask” I am alluding to is that set of clearly defined objectives you have established for your business for 2016 or, for that matter, any given year. You know what I am talking about – your 2016 Goals… If you haven’t set them yet, this would be the best time to do so. If you want to boost your ability to reach these objectives once you have set them, share them with your Team, including your key employees, veterinarian, breeder, nutritionist, banker, accountant and financial advisors. The magic of completing this task is that you will all be working to move your progress in the same direction. Further, these other participants will be better equipped to help you reach your objectives by optimizing their part of the overall plan. Remember to make these goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. Former actress and comedian Gilda Radner (from the “Saturday Night Live” show) once said, “When I was young, I always said I wanted to be someone. Now that I’m older, I wish I’d been more specific!” While, as usual, she was joking with her audience, there is also an immense amount of truth to her quote. Please allow me to provide you with a couple of examples:

  • You should have a business goal centered on your financing needs for the year. Are your lines of credit large enough, especially if we continue to have a downturn this year and your business is growing? Now is always the best time to arrange for whatever you will need going forward. It shows that you are thinking ahead, and, besides, no banker likes to do another request in the middle of the year, especially if we are in the middle of a downturn.
  • Regarding your dairy operation’s goals for the year, if you know what you want to specifically achieve in terms of reproduction, milk/cow, feed costs, and other items, it makes it a lot simpler to communicate this to your partners, employees, family & professionals. It also greatly improves the odds that these individuals will be better positioned to implement the tasks necessary to help you get there.

Our industry, like so many others, is facing great levels of change. In some areas, we are being forced to operate in totally unfamiliar territory. We cannot change that factor. However, regardless of what this year looks like, in the end you will definitely be better served if you are pursuing a defined set of objectives or goals within your business. Unlike their routing of flights and some other items, the airlines have finally suggested something that makes great sense when they recommended that you secure your own mask first. Take some time today to set your own Goals, so you will be assured of both a smoother & safer flight this year! I think you’ll be glad you did.