If you’re not familiar with the term “black swan” made popular by recent books and business articles, it simply describes ways of looking at things, statements or beliefs that were thought to be true – only to be proven false.

As I sit here typing out this article, I’m wondering how many things I believe to be true will eventually be proven not to be. I’m sure there are a lot of black swan myths in the cattle business that we hold dear and which our children will one day be amazed that we ever subscribed to.

All I really know is that I’ve probably hit or am rapidly approaching that halfway point in my life, and the greatest fear I held when I graduated school was to be one of those people who went to the grave with their music still in them, who didn’t achieve the purpose that God had intended for them. As a young man, I met a horse trainer who didn’t necessarily live a life that others would want to emulate, but he amazed me in that he always pursued what he loved with a passion and lived according to his code.

Certainly, there might be more to life than riding horses 14 hours daily, but spending time with him, getting to see up close someone living out his passion, left an indelible mark on me. This was a man who didn’t necessarily share the outside world’s views on lots of things but he lived without compromise. I always sensed he had few regrets and had no need to offer any apologies to the man in the mirror. All that is a long way of saying that I, like many people, probably can’t so clearly look into that mirror and say that I’ve done what I should have done or with the focus that I’d hoped.

I believe we all create black swans that deter us from living the life we’re meant to live; often times, we’re not even aware of them. Identifying those black swans isn’t something I’ve been able to accomplish by sitting down and filling out a page in a notebook, but via experience, time and a willingness to be introspective for awhile. But identifying the black swans that hold us back from doing what we were meant to do relative to our cattle operation and my personal life is something I’m convinced is critical to moving to the next level.