September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Wagner challenges audience to define success, value people, be thankful

Hank Wagner talks during a presentation he gave during the Carver County Dairy Expo on Feb. 18 in Norwood, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY JEAN ANNEXSTAD
Hank Wagner talks during a presentation he gave during the Carver County Dairy Expo on Feb. 18 in Norwood, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY JEAN ANNEXSTAD

By by Jean Annexstad- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

NORWOOD, Minn. - "Decide if you want success, define it and then do it. You need to do all three to celebrate the victories on your way to success," Hank Wagner told a captivated audience in the full auditorium at the Carver County Dairy Expo on Feb. 18 in Norwood, Minn.
"Be hungry to learn," said Wagner, a fourth generation dairy farmer. Wagner's keynote talk engaged conference attendees with many personal examples of what he has learned from influential people in his life, wisdom gleaned from books and his life-changing experience of travel in Togo, Africa.
Wagner, his wife, Pam, their son and daughter own and operate a 550-cow dairy farm in Oconto Falls, Wis.
"We're going to talk about success today," Wagner said, and then asked several questions of the audience: "How many want to be successful? Not everybody does and there are different passions and different levels of desires to chase that success."
"My second question is: 'How many of you know what success is to you?' Question 2A would be: 'How many of you know what success is to your business?' Question 2B is: 'How many of you know what success is to your family?' and Question 2C: 'How many of you know what success if for you as an individual?'
"If you don't know what success is for you, how are you going to know when you get there? How are you going to be able to bring on board the rest of your team?" said Wagner. One of his personal goals: to have a positive influence on a minimum of 100,000 people in my lifetime.
"To me, family is extremely important. I absolutely love farming, and I love being a leader. The most important job I have is being a dad," he said. "Pam and I need to determine what success is to our home and family. If we rely on somebody else to determine that for us, we may be in big trouble," he said.
Another element of success is to develop a business plan, said Wagner. "The reason to do a business plan is because it sets the direction for your business. Your most important responsibility is to cast vision, to give a picture and carry it onto the rest of the team."
"Determine what success is for you. Your plan for success is not going to be like my plan or my family's plan," Wagner said. "We all have different gifts, talents and abilities. I think that inside every single person is greatness. Every single person has their own plan or path to success."
"I think success is more of a journey than a destination," Wagner said. "What you realize as you go through life is that your idea of success may change, and you may start to alter your plan."
"As you go on this journey to success, every single one of you is going to fail. It's not abnormal, and it's not bad," he said. People should not be afraid to fail and many successful people have lives formed by failure, Wagner said.
"During times of test, trial, or failure is really when personal growth happens," he said. "Times of test and failure can transform our lives. Don't be paralyzed by failure. There is still greatness in you no matter how many times you fail."
Next, Wagner made the point that the most valuable thing on this planet is people, and if we value them, our lives are magically much different.
"Realize that every single one of you is connected to somebody else's success. You have a huge impact on what success your children will have. We need to say good things to our children. And smiling and doing something for your kids' friends may change their lives completely," Wagner said.
He pointed out that there are lots of people who have been strategically placed around you to help you achieve greatness. These people are not always parents or teachers, but can sometimes be a person who comes into your life briefly and makes a suggestion that has great impact later, for example.
Wagner encouraged the audience to recognize those people in their lives and learn from them. Young people, he said, should seek out adults as mentors who can have impact in their lives. He encouraged everyone to become the greatness you can be and then give it away to others.
Wagner also discussed how each person's journey to success should include learning from books. "Books have the potential to completely alter our lives." He cited author John Maxwell, whose books on leadership include Failing Forward, as one of the five most influential people who has shaped his life.
Wagner's final point was to be thankful. "It is impossible to be truly happy or successful without this."
He talked of a trip he made to Africa in 2004 where he learned this lesson working with the poor people there. He wrote a book from the diary he kept on the trip, titled Teachable Moments: Lessons from Africa with the intent to make others aware of what the African people are enduring. It is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Wagner suggested that everyone make a practice to think of three things to be thankful for each day. "In America, we need more thankfulness," he said. "The things that you are thankful for in your life will multiply or increase. The things you are not thankful for will leave you."
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