The Strategy in Drought – Written by Terry Betker

The Strategy In Drought

Now what do we do? There were certainly concerns late into the winter, and as an early spring approached, with a significant (severe in many areas) deficit in soil moisture. But, with every new year, there is optimism that with the new year comes the chance for upside and good outcomes. For many, the chance for any upside in 2021 has disappeared and is long gone.

It’s too easy to say but true, in that it is what it is and now what do we do about it. I’ve just finished reading a book on 9/11 where the writer captured peoples’ recollections and thoughts from that tragedy. One of the women interviewed was the wife of a passenger on one of the fateful planes. She said she remembered looking at her young daughter and being saddened in knowing the youngster would never get to know her father. She thought that her daughter would only get to know a sad mom. But then she said that something clicked in her head and said, “You know, I have a choice. I’m not going to ruin her life. I’m not going to ruin my own life.”

For many farm families, this summer is almost beyond imagination. Farms with zero production. How does that happen, yet it has. And then, now what to do? I fully acknowledge that my comments here are not based on any of your views out from your living room windows. I’m not walking in your shoes and cannot say that I understand how difficult this is and may be. But I do know from other life challenges that options, similar to the situation the young mother faced, will be there. At some point, it will help to ‘look forward’ to what can be and not dwell in the rear-view mirror of what has happened. This will very likely not be easy.

Someone once told me that there are two futures. The ‘future’ that will unfold as it occurs – day by day – and a ‘future’ that will be what you make it to be. I would always choose the latter. But, as stated, it likely won’t be easy. Then again, as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easily.

The ‘Noise’

I think we are all susceptible to external influences. Now, even more than ever with the onslaught of information and misinformation channeled through social media outlets and the internet. A question comes to mind. How much are you affected by the ‘noise’? Drought this / drought that. You can’t even drive to town without seeing the devastation of drought. It’s everywhere … just like Covid. How do you get away from it?

Be mindful of the idleness of time being on your hands. For many, it will be a long winter. What though, if you were to think of this next 7 or 8 months as being a unique opportunity to invest in yourself? Possibilities could include travel, even with school age children, accepting that Covid could be problematic. Maybe a farm tour?

Skill set development is another option. For many farmers, there is no real down time. There’s busy and then busier during seeding and harvest. This can make some activities that require a regular commitment of time challenging, if not nearly impossible. Could you use the next period of time to advance some management skills, or maybe something of personal development interest?

Much of what I have suggested comes with a financial cost which could be a challenge given the situation. Another option, and one that may require little or no investment, is to look at volunteering at something that has separation from the farm.

Yet another idea is to try to find a forum where you can benefit from the positive energy of others. A forum like this is most effective when there is mutuality where all participants derive energy and its associated benefit from the association. The structures can be casual or more formally organized. Personally, I would look for something that is purposeful and includes regularity. I think they function better and yield better experiences and outcomes.

Be proactive. Try not to just let things come at you or come to you. Try to anticipate when the curve balls may be thrown your way and think ahead of what you could do to lessen the impact. There’s no guarantee that proactivity will solve any and all problems. It will be better though, than waiting for things to simply unfold. Remember the two futures concept.

Running the risk of sounding a little bit like a text book, I’m going to suggest that you think of the 2021 drought in terms of business strategy. What do you with and about the drought from a strategic perspective? Remember, strategy can be simplified as being a fancy word for plan … usually longer term but not necessarily.

For many of you, it makes sense to me that you would look at the strategic (planning) implications stemming from the drought in the short term (next 16 months) and longer term (3-5 years). For many of you, if you were to adopt this concept in earnest, it will help greatly in creating separation and distancing you from the ‘noise’. The ‘earnest’ part is important. As much as possible, fully commit to taking this approach. By doing so, it will cause you to actively think forward and, as such, toward a future that you will have designed.

If you would like to speak to one of our consultants about this topic contact us.

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