That’s a dangerous philosophy, especially to share in a public forum like this article, but I stand by it. What we’ve experienced this year has only strengthened my belief.
When I think back to the beginning of the year, I try to remember what I was expecting of 2014. I had an idea that the grain market would be unfriendly, but other challenges that the year would throw our way were nowhere on my radar. The hailstorm is the prime example. It was absolutely unexpected and so destructive that I remember standing in the middle of a corn field and thinking only that I was standing amongst total chaos.
As we worked to recover from that storm and salvage what we could of the year thus far, I wrote that we, especially me, hadn’t the luxury of emotion, of feeling badly about things. I wrote that what we most needed at the moment was logic, steely logic, to make the right decisions in the face of an emotional event. I wasn’t lying when I said that—logic was what we needed. However, I’ll admit to you here that I felt the destruction of that storm down in my bones, and it shook me to my core. Recovery from an event of that magnitude takes some unconventional moves, and I was uncertain about the recommendations I was having to make to growers. Were they right? Would they prove successful? Did I actually mean what I was saying? I hadn’t had to question myself like that in a very long time.
Now here we are. It took time to show me, but it turns out that I did know what I was talking about. Though the year never quite extended its olive branch to us, we recovered, and quite handily, from the hailstorm. My recommendations didn’t bring ruin or havoc, and as I sit here and write today, my conviction in myself, in my knowledge, in our industry, and in you is strong as ever.
The reason for the hailstorm: to make us stronger.
You know well, and I do too, that whatever our best laid plans, we yet labor among things we can’t control. We can do everything just exactly right, and yet, the volatility of the markets, the weather, and yes, the government, exert a grand effect on us. The hailstorm was a dramatic, rather depressing (if I’m being honest), reminder of that very fact. However, even in this crappy reality there is a message, something to learn. The present is a gift. John Wayne said that each day comes to us clean. Whatever the havoc that that which is out of our control (damn weather, markets, and government!) will wreak upon us, we still have the gift of the present. In the present, we have much authority over what we do and what we do not do. That is true no matter the past or events of the future.
This perspective is something won through pain, which means that this past year only clarified it for me. Nevertheless growth comes through pain, and so we’ve grown. I don’t know what 2015 will bring, but I do know this: whatever happens, we have to stay in the fight.
It’s easy to let ourselves spiral out in regret and worry, but those things are useless. Regret and worry train our focus on things we cannot change. To take action may be a bit less easy, but it is action that trains our focus on the present, that gives us control, that keeps us in the fight.
Another round of which is starting soon.