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Start with a vision and keep repeating it

We all know the clichés. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Yet, most of us don’t have a clear picture of where we are going with our business. We don’t have a plan.


If you want to be something other than busy, here are some suggestions:

  1. Take time by yourself to reflect on what you’d like to accomplish in your ranch business. Discuss it with your family and/or your team.

  2. When ideas begin to crystalize WRITE THEM DOWN. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Put some numbers and dates with them. Make them quantifiable.

  3. Then draft a plan with the “end in mind.” If you’re going to increase your net income by $100k by the end of 2022, what do you need to do between now and then?

  4. Don’t be afraid to allow for some mystery. Ponder on it. Put some big goals out there and let your subconscious start chewing on the solution. Ever wake up in the morning with the answer to yesterday’s crossword? Let’s put that supercomputer between your ears to work for some greater good.

  5. Enlist trusted friends or teammates to help you in creating your future. Maybe they know something you don’t. Be a little careful here, nobody needs a critic at this stage.

  6. Make room for inspiration. Turn off the radio for a while in the tractor for a few minutes. Ask yourself some questions. Sit for a few minutes with your coffee before you rush out of the house into -20*.

  7. When inspiration comes, ACT. Take the next step. No shoulds. Do.

Once you have a vision, it’s your job as a leader to communicate that vision with your team. Short and to the point. Make sure they know and understand it. It’s not enough to tell them, make sure they can explain it in their own words. After they know it in their hearts, it becomes your job to constantly remind them what it is. People forget. Memory drifts a little. It’s your responsibility to keep them on track.


Then, USE the vision to EXPLAIN decisions. Your daily actions should relate directly to getting you to your vision. Used correctly, your vision can help an employee know what to do first in their day or if they find themselves with an extra hour at the end of the day.


Sometimes your vision will help you stop and question yourself. Is this something you need to be doing? The ranch “to do” list is never done. So, we need ways to whittle it down and make certain we’re doing the most important things. Things that don’t get us closer to our vision don’t get done.


It’s appalling how many ranchers don’t know their own why. Understandably, employees are often confused. Sadly, if you don’t create one, it will create itself. And it may not be one you like. I recently quizzed some ranch employees on their owner’s reason for ranching. Their answers couldn’t have been more different from the truth. And it reflected in their everyday actions. Frankly, that isn’t their fault. It was never explained to them. Don’t let chaos define your vision. Brand it boldly on your mind and those around you.


“Everything is created twice, first in the mind then in reality.” There’s a reason for cliches. Get a plan.

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