Mindsets are contagious

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This winter has been brutal.

Here in Minnesota, we are close to, if not already, breaking records on total snowfall amounts for the past winter season. In the doldrums of winter, many of us struggle with not only the specific difficulties that winter brings to our dairies but also the separation that occurs when we are hunkered down for months after the busy holiday season.

Recently, we participated in two opportunities to immerse ourselves in our great dairy community. These events have reminded us that we are not alone and are doing work worth doing. We attended the Minnesota Farm Bureau Ag Day Gala in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Besides the information we absorbed from informational sessions and visiting with industry experts at both events, we came across an unexpected topic – sequoias. In some ways, they are just like the farming community.

Giant sequoias are some of the world’s largest trees. These trees can live to be more than 3,400 years old and weigh more than 2 million pounds. The General Sherman sequoia tree, the largest in the world, measures 275 feet tall and is 36 feet wide in diameter at the base.

If you have ever visited a sequoia forest, how insignificant you feel is incredible. However, the most interesting thing about giant sequoias is that even with their massive size and weight, their roots venture only about 6 to 12 feet deep. How can these enormous trees stay standing, living for thousands of years, on such a shallow root system?

Rather than relying on deep roots to keep them upright, they spread their roots wide and intertwine with the other trees in the forest. These roots mat together to build a strong and stable community, each tree supporting the other. These trees are like the members of our dairy industry’s community. We, like them, are all intertwined and interconnected, supporting and depending on one another, holding each other up and helping each other grow.

In a rapidly changing world and an industry that can be physically and mentally challenging, you must surround yourself with a community of “sequoias” that inspire you and your business. This community should consist of individuals and dairies solving challenges with a positive attitude that you respect and admire.

Proximity is power. As Tony Robbins lectures, “Always remember that who you spend the most time with is who you eventually become. To reach new heights of success, you must surround yourself with people who not only inspire you but challenge you.”

Dairying is not easy. Top dairy herds acquire a circle of influence with wide-ranging expertise that pushes their dairy to raise the bar and achieve loftier goals.

The members in your “forest” could be fellow dairy men or women, nutritionists, veterinarians, professors, business professionals, members of your church and local community, or anyone else who challenges and pushes you and your business to learn and grow continually.

If you’re a young farmer like us, we recommend seeking a mentor and spending time with them. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and to expand and discuss topics that interest you and your dairy. Highly successful people are often willing to share their experiences, mistakes and goals. Your circle of influence is also critical because it can be called upon in a time of need, providing knowledge, training and expertise. Surrounding you, your dairy and your team with these individuals and spending time where they are will take your dairy to the next level.

Many people aspire to be the smartest or most successful person at the table. However, if you are always that person, you limit yourself and what you can achieve. At NexGen, we aim to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. We desire to acquire a seat at the table of dairies and experts that are more successful, knowledgeable or experienced than we are. Our participation has provided numerous new ideas and management strategies and at times has encouraged us to change our thinking and make successful changes to our dairy farm.

Suppose we continually expose ourselves to a community of men and women with different perspectives and new ideas. In that case, we can grow into and along with that network of roots and allow those giants to help hold our business upright and to grow to new heights.

    Megan Schrupp and Ellen Stenger are sisters and co-owners of both NexGen Dairy and NexGen Market in Eden Valley, Minnesota. They can be reached at Nexgendairy@gmail.com

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