From the moment our alarm clock rings in the morning until our head returns to the pillow at night, our days are filled with decisions. Some decisions are simple: what will we wear to work? What will fill our plates? What radio station we will listen to on the morning commute? Some decisions, however, are much more difficult: what career path we will take? Will we return to school? How will we pay the bills?
One of the hardest decisions we will make, however, is making the decision to walk away or to try harder. Being involved in agriculture, it is a decision we are no stranger to, yet never becomes easier to make.
I think it is safe to say it has been a challenging year to work in agriculture. Between dwindling markets, rising production costs and the growing concern of the consumer, there have been many days where it could have been easy to toss our hands up in the air and say, “You know what? I give up.”
As you know, however, that’s not how this industry works; once you are a part of agriculture, agriculture becomes a part of you. As members of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, you exemplify this in a unique way. Along with the challenges that come with being a farmer or agriculturist, you often make the decision to take time away from the farm, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get to work towards sharing the story of agriculture. Whether it’s at something as simple as a county farm breakfast in June or as complex as meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill, our members continuously add to the voice of agriculture proudly spoken by Farm Bureau.
With that said, it can be difficult to make the decision to focus on our own personal development. It’s not easy to take advantage of an opportunity when it may set you back a day’s work or pose challenges to an already congested schedule. However, it is in the decision to try that much harder and to reach that much farther that we see ourselves grow to reach our highest potential.
Just a few weeks ago, fifteen individuals including myself made the decision to seize the opportunity to try just a little harder. As members of the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute, we spent our first session in Madison, discovering our strengths, growing our emotional intelligence and expanding upon our speaking abilities.
Whether we worked in agribusiness or in production agriculture, it certainly was difficult to make the decision to set aside three days for personal development. On the final day of our first session, I sat back and listened to what once were strangers engage in conversation as if they were old friends. I witnessed their self awareness and ability to speak in front of a crowd grow wildly before my eyes. I realize now, however, what I was actually observing was future leaders of our organization being built.
It would have been easy to walk away from the opportunity to participate in the Farm Bureau Leadership Institute. It can be easy to walk away from the challenge of personal growth or organizational development, yet our members stand up to this challenge more often than not. How fortunate are we to have the chance to be a part of a unique organization that continually encourages us to make the decision to try harder?
We have the choice to be content with ourselves or to seek out the chance to develop. Just as we cannot give up in the trying times of agriculture, we cannot give up on becoming our best selves. As Farm Bureau members, we have the option to walk away from the unbelievable opportunities before us or make the commitment to fitting them in our lives.
What will you decide?
Olson resides in her hometown of Black River Falls, Wis. She has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and marketing with minors in mass communication and animal science from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a staff writer for Dairy Star, a regional newspaper focused on the dairy industry in the Midwest.