In some ways, agriculture can be brutal – BSE and the global economic picture really aren’t under our control. Nor are the weather, the markets in general, or even whether a top-end heifer has a calf with a leg back. We’re at the mercy of all these developments and we must simply react.

For those who want a life free of difficulty or problems, agriculture isn’t one of those jobs. Success in our line of work isn’t determined by controlling the environment but by reacting to the changes and circumstances in a positive manner.

Sleepless nights calving through blizzards, putting together a sale catalog against the deadline, or having your favorite herd bull break a leg are other examples. Of course, there are frozen water lines, broken feed trucks and scour outbreaks. The point is the list of things that can go wrong is virtually endless.

I’ve spent many a night listening to people detail the wrecks they’ve had. Those problems sometimes seem humorous in retrospect, but in real time, they’re often more than stressful – they can affect an operation’s viability.

It certainly should be an aim of management to foresee and limit difficulties, but as the saying goes, “it’s a question of when rather than if something will go wrong.” The key is how one responds.

Anger is a destructive and toxic emotion that can ruin relationships, both business and personal; it rarely has a place when things go wrong. Anger usually only exacerbates the problem and prevents one from dealing effectively with it. Meanwhile, dwelling on the problem results in stress, frustration and a host of mental and physical problems.

One must take a moment to think to understand the problem, and then act decisively on a solution and a course to deal with it. Ultimately, that includes a review process where one works to eliminate or negate the factors that caused the problem.