It's impossible not to detect the change in attitudes that's occurred since corn skyrocketed to record price levels, and winter storms hit areas of the country hard. There are times when outside forces conspire to create difficulties and wreak havoc in our business, and the frustration that results is certainly understandable.

However, during these times, one has to be careful to avoid the short-term market disruptions clouding your vision relative to long-term trends. At the same time, it is this time of year -- before the grass turns green -- when ranchers have time to contemplate their long-range strategic plans. It's also the time when some folks begin to realize there's a difference between living for the cows, and making a living from the cattle business.

My mom always preached there was a major difference between working hard and working smart. It's great advice, but how does one go about working smarter? Perhaps the answer is actually very simple in theory but difficult in practice.

The key to working smarter is doing what you love, doing what you have passion for, and doing what you're extremely good at and well-rewarded for. Find that magical elixir where your talents, passion and mission intersect, then put the bulk of your efforts in that area.

If you're making $250/hour doing what you love, it's easy to delegate the jobs you don't enjoy, and paying someone $10/hour to do them-- in many cases, probably better than you could. If you find your frustration level building, it may be just the predictable pressures of a commodity business, or it may be a signal your management priorities aren't aligned.