My employer, Guaranty Bank, recently held its bank-wide strategic plan meetings in which they rolled out new goals for the next few years. I appreciate these meetings not only because they loop all employees in – not just management – but they also reinforce that reaching our goals is a team effort. The achievement of those goals and the overall success of the company is affected by everyone, from branch bankers to lenders to back office operations, even board members.
At the meeting, the chairman of the board quoted NBA legend Michael Jordan: “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” The point he was making is that you will do whatever it is that you set out to do. Your mindset determines the achievement of any goal just as much, if not more, than any amount of work or money you throw at that goal.
I completely agree and it’s why I think it’s so important for my customers to have a strategy for goal achievement, whether they have 10 goats or 1,000 cows. Just like the strategic plans put into place by the banks I have worked for, these plans need to be specific and measurable. This makes it much easier to attain that goal, so instead of setting something vague be specific: Growing the herd by 20 percent through heifer retention by 2025 versus getting more cows. Put simply, what gets measured gets done.
Part of any goal achievement strategy is making a contingency plan for when something goes wrong, an all-too-common occurrence in agriculture where so much depends on fickle weather patterns.
Whether it’s crops or cattle, you are going to be affected by weather, supply and demand, prices, global economies and who knows what else. What is your plan for keeping up with operating costs and bank payments in those tough years? A savings account? An off-farm job? Diversifying your operation? Insurance? What happens if you get sick, hurt or, heaven forbid, die? Disability insurance? Life insurance? Hire extra hands?
My point is that establishing a strategy and contingency plans well before you want to achieve your goal can help ensure your success. Not only does it provide you with specific targets, but it can keep your mind engaged. You must keep the mindset that the goal you set can be achieved. If you set a goal of owning 600 acres, but know you will be OK if you only have 300, then chances are you’ll settle for that 300 acres or perhaps less.
If you think you can or you can’t, you are right. Our mind is a powerful tool that is often left neglected in our toolbox. The most important key to any operation is you. You are the one that endures the failures, large and small, and celebrates the victories. You are in the day-to-day management of your operation, slogging it out in the mud and heat, and basking in the relief of a job well done.
You, and the team you surround yourself with, will make your dreams a reality, but only if you determine that they will, in fact, happen.
Jessica Allan is an agricultural lender and commercial relationship manager at Guaranty Bank in Neosho, Mo. A resident of Jasper County, she is also involved in raising cattle on her family’s farm in Newton County and is an active alum of the Crowder College Aggie Club. She may be reached at [email protected]