Well as some of you may know I like to stay a little…well pretty…actually honestly VERY involved in many different aspects of agriculture. Beyond the obvious of being a farmer, this would include things like agvocacy, leadership, politics, etc. So this past week I have had the chance to head down to sunny Phoenix, AZ (tough life I know) to attend the annual Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference. It’s been a great experience as always, this marks my fourth trip to this conference, attending other places like Oklahoma City, Rapid City and Orlando.
I know you’re all feeling super sorry for me now…PALM TREES!!
I’ve been asking myself for awhile now if all this leadership work is “worth it”, wondering if the sacrifices I make that don’t always put my family and my farm as number one on my list of priorities truly make a big enough difference to others. It’s a tough call and one that I realize after spending 5 days away from home and talking to others here, I’m not alone with those concerns. Today especially when I attended a workshop by Dr. Bernie Erven, I think I started to get some clarity as to what I was facing. Now with most things in life the answer today will never be the same answer tomorrow as changes are always thrown your way, but just for today I do feel like I have received a bit of clarity in this mess of leadership, family, & work balance.
Dr. Bernie on one hand reaffirmed that I’m not alone in this struggle, he said that most people in that room had 3 roles in their lives, “The family role, the business role and the personal role.” And all those three hats had to worn at different times, known when to take one off and throw on another, and also how to be the person you should be in each situation. I realized that many times, we forget to switch roles and we don’t always give enough time to each role that we all play. And on the other hand I was hoping he would give me the 2min answer to all my questions. Instead he said that there are no easy answers and all answers for all people are different. But, “if you start with respect, from there you can gain understanding, and from that you can make a strategy of how to work together!”
Cotton field, right next to Cardinal Stadium! Talk about stressful “in town” farming!
As I sit here today in the sunny Phoenix weather, wishing that I could have it all, be involved in it all, fight all the good fights, I also realize that as inspired as I am by many opportunities, it’s tough to really evaluate how these decisions and commitments will affect all three hats you wear for your life. But I believe in what Bernie said, and I think I know where to start the conversation now. I know that there isn’t an easy answer, and maybe I just need to be reminded of that at times. And at times there may be sacrifice from different areas, but there is always something to work on, something to learn and something to work towards whether it’ while wearing your work hat, family hat or personal one. And looking back I think that this has been one of the best things I’ve gotten from Farm Bureau. It’s not just an organization that you find great friends, or learn more about politics and how to speak to the public, it’s also a place where you find people who are going through your same struggles. And with a family business as deeply rooted as agriculture those struggles between family, business and personal can be lines that are very blurry!