The Recovering Farmer

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wisdom to Know the Difference

Many of you are familiar with the serenity prayer. I have had it running through my head for some time now. Not sure when or why it started. But I have needed it on more than one occasion.

I took the opportunity last week to attend an annual district meeting for Hams. Many of you may not know what Hams is. Hams is an organization that evolved from Manitoba Pork Marketing, a group I was intimately involved in for many years. My reason for going was twofold, aside from the free lunch, of course. I wanted to meet people I had known through the years. Fellow producers, who have shown amazing resilience in facing the challenges of the industry for many years. As well, because I deal with producers in my mediation work, I was curious to see what the future might hold. I was interested to see whether there was hope for a turnaround anytime soon.

I found myself having an increased amount of anxiety as I sat and listened to the various reports. I found my mind wandering back to the days when I sat in those meetings as a producer. Back in the day I would try to glean whatever positives I could out of those meetings. Perhaps an increase in prices. Maybe feed prices will come down depending on drought conditions in the American mid west. Perhaps the soymeal crop in South America would be sufficient to put pressure on North American prices. Perhaps there will be an increase in free trade to the extent that our hog prices will rise. Perhaps production problems in other countries that would boost our prices. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Back in the day I was also in a leadership position and I recall speaking to hog producers at these meetings. As a leader it was important to present a realistic picture yet one that could provide hope. That in itself is a fine line. And as these situations drag on it becomes debilitating for anyone in leadership positions. Many times I would wonder why I was doing what I was doing. I would question my abilities. I would wonder whether someone different could provide better answers.

Notice how, as a producer, I would be consumed with what was going on in other parts of the world? Hoping that things would change elsewhere so that I could benefit? Things that were completely out of my control? As a leader I was taking on the responsibility of an industry. Getting to the point where I was taking the blame for other producer’s losses.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”. Many of the things I worried about were completely out of my control. There was no way that I could change that. It was then, as it is now, important for me to inventory the stress in my life and put aside those things that I cannot change and to accept the fact that I cannot change them.

“courage to change the things I can”. Now that I have put aside those things that I have no control over I can focus on the others. My list of stressors has become shorter and therefor more manageable. This eases a lot of pressure. However it does take significant courage to make some of the changes one has to make. For me it was an exit from farming. Sometimes in retrospect, I wish I had had the courage sooner. Change is daunting but can be so freeing.

“wisdom to know the difference”. It takes patience and practice. To be able to distinguish those things that we have control of. And when “stuff” happens, to have the ability, the discernment to understand when to accept a challenge or when to challenge it. Each time we do this our character grows, our emotions improve and our lives get better. Make it a good one.

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