No; I did not hit random keys for today’s title nor did I forget to hit the space bar between words. There is a story behind the letters. I will get to that in a moment, but I want to talk about personality and communication styles.
    At many farm transition meetings we have been to, either as a buyer and now as a seller, there are always a couple of fun tests to discover your communication and leadership styles. One such test compares your style to a golden retriever, a lion, a beaver and an otter. You have to rank four words in a line which describe you best: takes charge, takes risks, loyal and accurate. The problem for me was when I could rank all four words in the same line as a four. Once all the words were ranked and the scores totaled, I am most like an otter. Of course, it is the most social and people trait of the four. I also see myself as a beaver in creatively solving problems, a lion in taking the lead and as a loyal retriever to my family and friends. As Austin points out, it is not for absolute accuracy but more for a frame to build upon.
    The catch phrase at many of these meetings is building a team. There used to be a time when you were a one-man, family team. You did it all. There were areas where you easily took the lead, and there were areas where you slogged through to the finish line. We cannot do it that way today. We have so many more options. One person cannot know everything in the changing world of technology, finances, animal care, taxes, estate planning and transitioning. We need to build a team to bring the best ideas and information to the table to keep moving forward. That also means we may need to bring someone to the table outside of the family.
`    We have always been a do-it-yourself kind of farm. This style has worked for us in the past, but we recognize it will not be as effective for us in the future. So, we made a call to the Minnesota Dairy Initiative to help us start pulling a team of experts together. We are reaching out and utilizing available resources to help us take steps in the next direction. At our first meeting, we took these personality and communication style tests. They were pretty accurate and a spark for starting a conversation of how we view ourselves and how others view us.
    Leadership personality and communication traits affect how we perceive things and how we are perceived. It is the angle in which we view our situation. Think of how light is refracted through a prism into individual rays of color. As the sun marks time across the horizon, the pattern of light and color dance around the room reflecting a different perspective of the sun. The same can be said about our lives, constantly shifting to reflect the situation.
    Just as there are seven colors (that we can see) in the rainbow coming together to make light, different traits in our personality, leadership and communication styles come together to make us who we are. We are not only a beaver or an otter or a lion or a retriever but a wonderful combination of everything. When we recognize our strengths and weaknesses, we are on the road to discovering new opportunities.
    Now back to the title, “Opportunityisnowhere.” Some FFA members may recognize the title from leadership camps. This jumble of letters had such an impact on Austin when he was in high school; he printed them in a framed picture for his room. Do you see it now? It is about perspective, positive or negative. Look again. What words do you see? As we begin a new month, a new year, a new decade, let us focus on where opportunities are for opportunity is now here.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minnesota. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.