My View From The Country

Lifestyle Vs. Business, And Vice Versa

We have come to realize there are four main variables we can manage in our business – people, land, money and cattle. They all must work together or the system falls apart.

A couple of quotes I ran across this week made me stop and think. The first was from Charles Goodnight, that iconic rancher sometimes called “the father of the Texas Panhandle.” He said: “When the ranch is in peace, no other life is more perfect.” The other was by Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer – “If you are always in a hurry to get things done, you are doing too much.”

Both quotes were particularly poignant to me, as we are in full-blown bull sale mode at our place. We’re putting in 20-hour days and it still seems like there’s no way we can get it all done. When I coupled those two quotes with a conversation I had this week with a good friend who was relating some of the things he was considering with his operation, it hit me how often we have to go full circle here on our operation. 

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m pretty well versed on a lot of good business practices and theories. But, more times than not, my problem from a management perspective comes down to execution and application. Still, at other times, it just takes me awhile to really understand the principles that we are trying to apply.

Take the whole issue of lifestyle. I’ve always been a little confused when it comes to the issue of lifestyle. I know it’s the primary reason we are in this business. It is how my wife and I wanted to raise our children, and it’s how we’ve always wanted to live.

Conversely, I’ve always known that running this business as a lifestyle enterprise rather than as a true profit center was a prescription for ruin.

My View From The Country: I Hereby Resolve To….

I’m guessing some of you have gone through a similar evolution. You shifted your thinking, making sure you were working on the business instead of in the business. If you began with insufficient attention to the business side, you probably learned fairly quickly that the lifestyle model was actually preventing you from having the lifestyle you wanted. So you doubled and redoubled your efforts, taking on risk and additional work, in an effort to make your business more viable, only to find that working non-stop also prevented you from having the lifestyle you desired. Eventually, you came to the realization that there are four main variables we can manage in our business – people, land, money and cattle. And they all have to be working together or the system falls apart. 

Today, we’re actually making business decisions based on their effects on people and lifestyle. So, essentially we’re back to where we began, only with a much clearer perspective. We have a clearer view of our ultimate destination and a much better plan of how to get there.

The difference is that we also understand that if one doesn’t enjoy the journey, then the destination is irrelevant. That’s true vice versa, too – if one enjoys the journey but ends up at the wrong place, then that too is a waste. It may sound like mere semantics, but it’s changed our planning process.

My wife feels I share too much personal information from time to time in my writings. So I won’t detail some of the specific changes we are making, but the goal is to make the business decisions that enable us to live the lifestyle we desire. But it actually goes beyond that in that we recognize that lifestyle and/or people are as important as land, money and cattle. The ranch can only be in peace when the big four are in balance.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 22, 2013

Great thoughts....in light of this drought cycle, it is time to reassess, yet be grateful....

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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